By Staceyann Chin
288 pages; Scribner
A feisty, fresh-mouthed waif, poet and performer Staceyann Chin was born on the floor of a shack in rural Jamaica and batted from one brutal, Bible-thumping "auntie" to another after her mother flew the coop and her likely father, a Chinese-Jamaican businessman, denied his paternity. Chin's hurricane-strength memoir of social and sexual dislocation, The Other Side of Paradise, might make her seem pathetic if she weren't so hell-bent on thriving. "It tickles me to think that from my very first breath, everyone expected me to stop breathing," she writes, laughing, as always, in the dark.