The Girl with the Golden Shoes, By Colin Channer

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The Independent Culture

Macmillan's Caribbean Writers series continues to deliver fictional treasure from the archipelago. This fable-like novella by Jamaican-born, US-based Colin Channer finds a sparky female Candide in Estrella, a free-thinking teenager on the composite island of "San Carlos".

It's 1942, and the rumble of war in Europe frames her search for a new role in a mixed-up time. Damned by her ambition ("tell someone that you want to write and paint ... and they think you need a weekend in a padded room"), she quits the fisherfolk who spurn her and takes a rocky road to the capital.

The Caribbean tragi-comedy of class and colour finds a richly eloquent voice in this pin-sharp innocent abroad. A wise child, she grasps that, behind the swirling street theatre of rank and race, "All man is man. All flesh is flesh".