Get to know Donna Hemans

Donna Hemans is the author of the novels River Woman and Tea by the Sea. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Slice, Shenandoah, Electric Literature, Ms. Magazine and Crab Orchard Review. She received her undergraduate degree in English and Media Studies from Fordham University and an MFA from American University. She lives in Maryland and is the owner of DC Writers Room, a co-working studio for writers.



Fun fact

I’d like to climb to the highest peak of every Caribbean island

Favorite author

I have favorite books rather than a favorite author and among my favorites are God of Small Things, Beloved, The Shadow King

Favorite place in the world

any Caribbean beach

Favorite place to read

the front verandah of my childhood home

Books by Donna Hemans

The House Of Plain Truth

Coming January 30, 2024



A novel of fractured family and the search to protect—or discard—what unites them.


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Set in Brooklyn, Cuba, and mostly Jamaica, The House of Plain Truth traces one older woman's decision to pursue and hold onto what has deep meaning to her—in her blood and in her bones. What does it look like to uphold the wishes of those who have departed the world and why is it that the most unlikely characters crystallize what matters most? 

When Pearline leaves her life in Brooklyn and returns to her childhood home of Jamaica to care for her dying father, Rupert, she leaves her grown daughter to cope, overwhelmed, with her granddaughter back in Brooklyn. Yet Pearline feels called to return to her childhood home and soon dives deep into her family of origin. 

Ostracized by her sisters for moving to America decades earlier and only coming "home" due to their father's imminent passing, Pearline must assert her own familial identity as she strives to hold onto the family's home over her sisters' objections. Always lurking in the back of Pearline's mind is her family's traumatic past in Cuba, where Rupert had sought a better life and where four of Pearline's siblings remained when the rest of the family left for Jamaica, including one who was lost for good. 

In lush, lyrical prose inspired by the author's own family story, this novel explores the divided loyalties within a family, the true meaning of home, and what one woman has to sacrifice to get what she ultimately wants.

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The House Of Plain Truth