This essay contributes to ongoing debates about cultural and national identity and belonging in Jamaica by taking up the primary trope of the “shop” as the sole site of black and Chinese interaction. Through analyzing the fiction and poetry of Easton Lee, the essay considers how Lee's poetry and fiction resituate the primary contact zone of the shop from an urban space to the rural outpost, where the meeting of black and Chinese was also a meeting of “patois” and “pidgin.” Lee's work challenges representations of Chinese shopkeepers as parasitic, casting them instead as integral parts of the communities they serve, thus intervening in the way that the “shop,” and by extension Jamaican Chinese history, has been written.
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Tzarina T. Prater; Labrish and Mooncakes: The Meeting of Vernaculars in the Work of Easton Lee. Small Axe 1 March 2014; 18 (1 (43)): 149–160. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2642827
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