By Zalika Reid-Benta
A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.
FRYING PLANTAIN has been on numerous “must read” lists from Bustle, Refinery29, Chatelaine Magazine, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and more. It was also listed as one of Indigo’s 50 “Best Books of 2019”. Zalika was the June 2019 Writer in Residence for Open Book and she was listed in CBC’s “6 Canadian Writers to Watch in 2019”. She received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, was the 2019 John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference and is an alumnus of the 2017 Banff Writers’ Studio. She is currently working on a young-adult fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jamaican folklore.
- Frying Plantain:An Interview with Zalika Reid-Benta
- Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: Zalika Reid-benta
- Searching for Identity in the Diaspora as an Afro-Caribbean: Toronto’s Little Jamaica finally gets its literary moment
- A conversation with Zalika Reid-Benta, author of FRYING PLANTAIN
- Why Zalika Reid-Benta wrote a short story collection that looks at growing up young and black in Toronto
- Zalika Reid-Benta on Banff, Process and Vulnerablilty
- Zalika Reid-Benta: Navigating Canada’s World of Literature
- Black-out in the Great White North
Navigating Microaggressions as a Black Writer in CanLit and more by Zalika Reid-Benta, June Writer in Residence, for Open Book
Lonely Planet by Zalika Reid-Benta in Fashion Magazine
“Zalika Reid-Benta’s debut short story collection, Frying Plantain, is brilliant. Through Reid-Benta’s quiet but unflinching prose, we witness a Black girl’s journey into adulthood. Along the way, we meet characters that are by turns lovable and frustrating, stubborn and vulnerable. Reid-Benta writes her characters into existence with great assurance, skill, and tenderness. Frying Plantain is as accomplished as it is delightful..”
– DANUTA GLEED AWARD JURY – Lesley Choyce, Norma Dunning, and Djamila Ibrahim
“There is not a single false note or misstep in this debut novel […] Reid Benta’s writing is both relatable and illuminating, and that is a special kind of alchemy.”
– MARISSA STAPLEY – author of The Last Resort, Things To Do When It’s Raining, and Mating For Life: A Novel
“Zalika Reid-Benta announces herself as an enormous voice for the coming decade (and one that is desperately needed). Not all must-read books are this enjoyable.”
– GARY SHTEYNGART – author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success
“Sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, Flying Plantain is written in the indelible ink of memory. Zalika Reid-Benta is a masterful storyteller with a light touch, a photographic recall, and a pitch-perfect ear for the ephemera we’d like to think of as youthful, but just can’t seem to shake. This is an unforgettable debut.”
– PAUL BEATTY – Booker Prize–winning author of The Sellout
“Each story in Frying Plantain is achingly poignant, insightful, and funny; each a gem unto itself. Ms. Reid-Benta’s fully sympathetic protagonist, Kara Davis, is a girl who belongs to neither Canada nor Jamaica, despite the fact that both places are ‘home.’ Her family — loving, flawed, and wickedly at odds with one another — all demand her loyalty, and her loyal friends aren’t friends at all. As a collection, these stunning stories create a multi-faceted jewel of a book.”
– BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM – author of The Scenic Route and Rabbits for Food
“Zalika Reid-Benta’s first book — by turns effortless, vivid, funny, sad, and genuinely like being there — is as shiny as they come. Her spot-on capture of youthful aspiration, folly, and how family members tend to understand one another only in fragments make these stories a real pleasure — full of recognition, humour, and keenly observed lives in the here and now. Frying Plantain, a window into the world of growing upward and onward inside and outside family ties, is an absolute gem.”
– JANICE GALLOWAY, author of Clara and All Made Up
In the news:
- Zalika Reid-Benta: How I Made It as an Author by FLARE Magazine
- In Little Jamaica: Stories of a Changing Neighbourhood
- Six Black Canadian Writers to Watch in 2019
- 28 Works of Canadian Fiction to Watch for in Spring 2019
- George Elliot Clarke Recommends Zalika Reid-Benta as a Writer to Watch
- New Deals: Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta
- Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2019
- 37 Books to Dive into as the Weather Warms
- Now Toronto: Zalika Reid-Benta
- Books We Can’t Wait to Read in the First Half of 2019
- Zalika Reid-Benta ’14 to Debut Story Collection “Frying Plantain” in 2019
- Check out the New Must-Read Caribbean Books for 2019
- Canadian Living: Most Anticipated Books of 2019
- Quill & Quire Magazine: Generational Divides
February 13, 2020
York University Creative Writing Series
Join Zalika from 1:30pm to 3:00pm at the Paul A. Delaney Gallery for a 25 minute reading followed by a Q&A. Light refreshments will be served and the event is free. Click here for more information!
February 19, 2020
Books and Beers: Pint-Sized Conversations
For a fourth successful season, Henderson Brewing Company will host a House of Anansi author each month to chat about their newest release. Zalika Reid-Benta will be speaking on February 19th. Click here for more information!
February 22, 2020
Blackstarline Book Club
Join Zalika Reid-Benta and the Blackstarline Book Club for a conversation about Frying Plantain.
February 25, 2020
DPCDSB Black Futures Symposium
Zalika Reid-Benta joins Eden Hagos and Lydia-Joi Marshall on a panel dedicated to sharing insights on the realities of anti-Black racism, Black identity and its intersections with education and politics. Other subjects include Black representation in media and other timely topics. Panelists will share their personal stories to examine the narrative of Black experiences in Canada and the wider world. Click here for more information!
February 27, 2020
Zalika Reid-Benta at the Newmarket Public Library
Join Zalika Reid-Benta for a reading and at a talk at the Newmarket Public Library. Click here for more information!
March 13-15, 2020
Growing Room Literary Festival
Five celebrated novelists and short story writers discuss how to channel fear in fiction, sharing their secrets to transforming a protagonist’s rock-bottom moments into compelling stories. By employing inventive and sensitive worldbuilding techniques, Shani Mootoo, Mallory Tater, Zalika Reid-Benta, Rebecca Fisseha, and Rhea Tregebov explore how to make sense of the human condition through the written word and reveal how to take control of any given narrative. Moderated by Doretta Lau. Click here for more information!
Dr. Yvonne Shorter Brown, the renowned Caribbean scholar on diasporic African identities, slavery and memory, describes the black body as an archive: “It stores, imparts and remembers everything.” This panel brings together brilliant black writers of African descent, Maneo Mohale, Jillian Christmas, Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek, and Zalika Reid-Benta, who all engage with the black femme body in their work, while pushing the boundaries of how blackness, femininity, sexuality, and embodied memory are made legible in the written word.Click here for more information!
In the long stretches between Home and “home” there are infinite stories, lessons, and longings. How many different people do we need to be? How many different languages must we carry in order to be understood? How many lands will we claim? How many will claim us, and what must be left behind? Join us for this panel with Rhea Tregebov, Rebecca Fisseha, Zalika Reid-Benta, Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros and hosted by Afuwa. And pack light, the journey is unfolding. Click here for more information!
January 14, 2020
Heliconian Club Literary Lecture Series
october 27, 2019
Ottawa International Writers' Festival • Ottawa
october 24-26, 2019
Vancouver Writers' Festival • Vancouver
Zalika Reid-Benta will appear at three different events during the Vancouver Writers’ Festival. Join her for some readings and conversations!
september 28, 2019
Culture Days • Barrie Public Library
Join Zalika Reid-Benta at the Barrie Public Library, Downtown Location, as she does a presentation and Q&A about the themes and issues explored in FRYING PLANTAIN.
september 22, 2019
september 17, 2019
Canadian Writers In Person • York University
“Canadian Writers in Person” is a public reading series to which is attached a first year course open to students in any discipline, and any year in their program. Zalika Reid-Benta will be one in eleven Canadian writers invited to visit York University to read from and discuss FRYING PLANTAIN with an audience of students and members of the general public.
september 8, 2019
Eden Mills Writers' Festival • Toronto
Check out a reading by Zalika Reid-Benta at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival in the Fall.
august 10, 2019
We So Lit Book Club • Toronto
Join Zalika Reid-Benta and the We So Lit Book Club at a meeting to discuss her debut book Frying Plantain.
june 27, 2019
Maria A. Shchuka Library • Toronto
Zalika Reid-Benta appears in conversation with Olive Senior to discuss her debut book Frying Plantain.
june 1, 2019
In Her Voice Festival • Toronto
Three authors, Zalika Reid-Benta, Téa Mutonji, and Nadja Lubiw-Hazard will be joined by moderator Samia Madwar for an hour-long panel, followed by an audience Q and A.
june 7, 2019
Book Launch • Toronto
june 11, 2019
Annette Public Library • Toronto
Zalika Reid-Benta appears in conversation with Sarah Hagi to discuss her debut book Frying Plantain.
Zalika @ Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Reaction
Zalika @ Danuta Gleed Literary Award Announcement
Zalika @ Ottawa International Writers Festival
Zalika @ Vancouver Writers Festival
Zalika @ Appel Salon
Zalika @ CTV Your Morning
Zalika @ "Frying Plantain" Book Launch
Zalika @ Kobo "In Conversation"
Zalika @ "In Her Voice Festival: First Fictions"
Zalika @ Banff Reading Series