How to Say Babylon
Poet Safiya Sinclair grew up in a Rastafarian family in Jamaica's Montego Bay. Her father, a musician who fell on increasingly hard times during her childhood, compensated by tightening his control over the family, insisting that they conform rigidly to Rastafarian ways and shun the larger world, called "Babylon." School friendships and outside activities were forbidden, dress and hairstyle strictly controlled. Safiya's mother seemed unable to defy her father, submitting meekly to his demands and unable to intervene between her husband and her children, though she supported Safiya at crucial junctures. Slowly, in small then larger ways, Safiya begins to become her own person, thanks to her intelligence and poetic talent. Her opening of a breach eventually allowed others in her family to escape her father's iron hand. Beautiful, wrenching, and ultimately hopeful, this is an exceptionally powerful memoir.