New from Simon & Schuster

The Other Side of Paradise

The Other Side of Paradise

A Memoir

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Staceyann Chin has appeared on television and radio, including The Oprah Winfrey Show , CNN, and PBS, discussing issues of race and sexuality. But it is her extraordinary voice that launched her career as a performer, poet, and activist. Here, she shares her unforgettable story of triumph against all odds in this brave and fiercely candid memoir..

No one knew Staceyann’s mother was pregnant until a dangerously small baby was born on the floor of her grandmother’s house in Jamaica, on Christmas Day. Staceyann’s mother did not want her, and her father was not present. No one, except her grandmother, thought Staceyann would survive. It was her grandmother who nurtured and protected and provided for Staceyann and her older brother in the early years. But when the three were separated, Staceyann was thrust, alone, into an unfamiliar and dysfunctional home in Paradise, Jamaica. .

Told with grace, humor, and courage, Chin plumbs tender and unsettling memories as she writes about drifting from one home to the next, coming out as a lesbian, finding the man she believes to be her father, and ultimately, discovering her voice. .
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  • Scribner | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743292917 | 
  • February 2010
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Writer Staceyann Chin: Off The Shelf

Listen to author Staceyann Chin discuss her new book on Off The Shelf, Simon & Schuster's radio program!

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Questions for Discussion

1. Though The Other Side of Paradise is filled with unforgettable stories, which scenes were the most memorable for you? Which were the most shocking, the most inspiring, the funniest?

2. Discuss the significance of the title and what it means to Staceyann. What does paradise mean to Staceyann? How does her depiction of Jamaica compare to what you know about the country?

3. Grandma Bernice was a religious woman and Staceyann was raised to put her faith in God. Discuss the role of religion in the communities that Staceyann grew up in. How did the religious beliefs of the people around her manifest themselves in Staceyann’s life? Discuss Staceyann’s relationship to religion.

4. Delano tries to explain to Staceyann that they are different because they are “Chiney Royal” and are therefore “whiter” than most people (p. 16). Discuss the different ways people in the book talk about race. Are race and class related? How so?

5. The memoir is dedicated to Sta see more

Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write The Other Side of Paradise?

A. Apart from the obvious rags to riches story(abandoned by both parents, left with my poor, deaf grandmother in a Third World Country with a history of violent homophobia, coming out as a lesbian, and having to finally flee that country) I began my writing/performing career with autobiographical material. I gained some notoriety through being an activist: I was a poet on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, then I was co-writer and original performer in the Broadway Show Def Poetry Jam, Then I did three or four one-woman shows downtown Manhattan. I was approached by a few agents and editors about writing a memoir. I declined the offers, but began penning some episodes- fleshing out the stories referenced in the poems and the theater peices. By the time I met and signed with my agent, Frances Goldin, I was ready to meet an editor who would help me craft the odd, disconnected memories into a book. Alexis Gargaliano, who knew my work from my performance poetry, seemed a good match. I liked her immediately. The book we have now is the product of a journey we took together; it wasn't always smooth sailing, but it was never boring. Her insight and her ability to see beyond badly written pages made it possible for me to contine writing after my grandmother passed, and relationship after relationship ended- Under her encouraging gaze I discovered that I was able to tell my most personal stories without dying.

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