Abeng Background

Abeng Background

Abeng is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Michelle Cliff and published in 1984.

The word "Abeng" translates to a type of musical instrument played by the Maroon people of Jamaica. The novel incorporates Jamaican folklore with true events involving British imperialism in Jamaica and events in Cliff's life. The protagonist, Clare Savage, is a mixed-race Jamaican girl who undergoes a search for her identity in the midst of a world taken over by slavery and imperialism. 

Michelle Cliff was born in Jamaica in 1946 before moving to New York City three years later. Her other works, including No Telephone to Heavenare also centered around Jamaican culture and themes.