Announcing our 2021 Award Winners and Top 20 Books of the Year

Excerpt from Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Foreign Soil

And Other Stories

by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke X
Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 272 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Naomi Benaron
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Kids' bedroom's a peculiar shape. Front wall juts out slanted-like so the window overlook the front door an porch. 'S as if the bedroom's tryin-a scape from the rest-a the house. From where she standin, Jeanie can see all the way down the long dusty drive. Out on the front lawn Lucy's swirlin roun in a circle, tangled hair flyin out behind her, wigglin her shoulders in some kinda showgirl shimmy. Window's closed, but Jeanie can see Lucy's li'l mouth openin wide in song. Jeanie's husband's sittin on the porch bench, can-a beer perched nex to him, readyin those damn torch sticks-a his to go ridin. Carter's on the porch steps, back turned to his sister's dancin ways, talkin to his daddy.

Jeanie gather up the pile-a pink an white socks, pause a moment as she stare out the window at her son. Carter's doin that thing with his nails again. Lord have mercy. Boy's clenchin his fist over an over as he look at his daddy, makin red half-moon welts in his palm with his fingernails. Ever since his gram Izzy passed on, her Carter's been fadin. Hurtin. Carter's skinny white legs swimmin in his cut-off army pants, makin him look smaller than his nearly ten years. Kid's skin an bone. Jeanie ain't seen him eat a full meal in months. Without Izzy roun, she ain't quite sure how to handle the kid, even though he hers. Can't figure him for tryin. Come from nowhere, their Carter had. Least nowhere they ever be willin to discuss.

Out the window, Jackson's chattin to Carter, pointin to the pile-a sticks at his feet as he barkin at the boy. Carter's turnin away from his daddy, lookin down at his own feet.



Delores stop inspectin her long, tapered toes an get to finishin her business. She flush the toilet, move over to the sink an wash her hands, lean in an stare at her face real close in the mirror. She gettin ole. No matter how much mail-order miracle cream she use on em, these wrinkles not gon let up. No how, no way.

"Y'all starin in the mirror again miring yourself, Delores?" Ella push into the bathroom, sit down on the can, the plaits in her hair all stuck out an crooked from lyin on one side while she slept.

"What I tell you bout sneakin in here at night?" Delores ask, turnin to face the chile.

"Well, what the Lord teach your damn self in the Bible bout pride a sin?" Ella answer back, pullin on the toilet roll. "An here you be, preenin in the lookin glass anyways."

That chile don't watch her mouth, it gon bring her all kinds-a trouble. Delores shoot her a look like death warmed up, but Ella jus stare back at her with one eyebrow raised up.

Delores leave the room while Ella's on the toilet. They all friends in this buildin, an Delores lived here twenty years now, ever since she leave Newmarket, but you never can be too sure who gon accuse you-a what where there's a li'l pickney concerned. Whenever Izzy came to visit, she warn Delores bout gettin too close to the girl. Only thing much they ever argued bout. Surprisin, given the years an history an heartache hung between em.

"Y'all need to make peace with your son so's you can get to see them beautiful grandpickney-a your own an stop takin in strays from next door," Izzy'd scold her. "He's a grown man now, an it's gotta be time he saw the truth. Could be it change things between you."

"Y'all call my Ella a stray one more time I'm gon throw you off that balcony to meet your maker right here in the middle-a Orleans," Delores seethe.

Was all well an good for Izzy to say. She had her grandpickney livin right there under her own goddamn roof out in Sippi. Weren't no way Delores baby would get to talkin to her again. Specially not enough to let her see them kids-a his.

When the toilet flush an the tap start runnin, Delores open the bathroom door again. She make her way over to the mirror cabinet while Ella dryin her hands.

Excerpted from Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke. Copyright © 2017 by Maxine Beneba Clarke. Excerpted by permission of Atria Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: The Lincoln Highway
    The Lincoln Highway
    by Amor Towles
    Voted 2021 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Things look bleak for Emmett ...
  • Book Jacket: The Code Breaker
    The Code Breaker
    by Walter Isaacson
    Voted 2021 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What makes humans human? It's ...
  • Book Jacket: Firekeeper's Daughter
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Voted 2021 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Angeline Boulley's young adult ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Million Things
    by Emily Spurr
    Voted 2021 Best Debut Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Our First Impressions reviewers were...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beasts of a Little Land
    by Juhea Kim

    An epic story of love, war, and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement.

Win This Book!
Win Taste Makers

Taste Makers
by Mayukh Sen

America's modern culinary history told through the lives of seven pathbreaking chefs and food writers.

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.