Thursday, June 9, 2011

Caribbean Fiction

In The Name of Salome: A Novel / by Julia Alvarez
The life of Salome Urena, called the “Emily Dickinson of the Dominican Republic”, begins in 1850 when she’s born into a country undergoing intense political upheaval and cultural tension. A brilliant writer with a beautifully poetic soul, Salome is only 17 when she publishes her first set of captivatingly patriotic poems instantly transforming her into a national icon. But her fame comes at a price, as witnessed by the travails of her and her daughter Camila later in life. (FIC ALVAREZ)

Island Beneath The Sea / by Isabel Allende
In 1700, Zariete is born a slave in Haiti (then called Saint-Domingue) and soon bought by plantation owner Toulouse Valmorain. Though a reasonable master, Toulouse is soon consumed by the complications of plantation life where it seems the only means to make a profit is through brutality and oppression. Things change quickly when, following Overture’s legendary slave revolt, Zariete and Toulouse are forced to escape with their two children, had illegitimately, to the bawdy streets of New Orleans and a new and different life. (FIC ALLENDE)

The Dew Breaker / by Edwidge Danticat
In modern times, “the Dew Breaker” is seen by those around his Brooklyn neighborhood as a quiet, kind family man and upstanding citizen. But in his former life in Haiti, he was a brutally violent individual, a ‘torturer’ and murderer of many, his vulgar bloodlust virtually knew no end. Jumping back and forth through time, the dual lives of the man known as the Dew Breaker resonates at a particularly keen level, showing how the past contributes to the present and some men are never as they seem. (FIC DANTICAT)

Beautiful Maria of My Soul: Or The True Story of Maria Garcia y Cifuentes, the Lady Behind A Famous Song: A Novel / by Oscar Hijuelos
Maria Garcia y Cifuentes is the jewel of post-WWII Havana. A poor girl who has risen to prominence through her distinguished beauty, she can be seen everywhere from advertisements in magazines, dancing in nightclub hotspots and walking the streets on the arm of one of the city’s richest and most powerful businessmen. But it’s all come at a very high price, one which becomes even costlier with the onset of the Cuban revolution. ‘Beautiful Maria’ is a sequel to Hijuelos’ Pulitzer winning novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. (FIC HIJUELOS)

The Book of Night Women / by Marlon James
In early 19th century Jamaica, slave Lilith is both feared and ostracized for her fiery green eyes which immediately set her apart from others on the plantation. But after killing a slave driver who tries to rape her, Lilith catches the attention of the Night Women, a secret society plotting a rebellion against the plantation owners. Soon a plan of action towards revolt is put into motion with Lilith squarely in the middle of things. (FIC JAMES)

Annie John / by Jamaica Kincaid
On the island of Antigua, 10-year-old Annie John lives with her mother and attends the local grammar school for girls. In the succeeding years as Annie reaches adolescence and womanhood as well as the recognition of her growing clinical depression. With time, she’s propelled toward the critical decision of whether to depart from her home and native culture or remain near the family and heritage she loves. (FIC KINCAID)

He Drown She In The Sea / by Shani Mootoo
On the Caribbean island of Guanagaspar (fictional), half-caste Harry St. George falls hopelessly in love with wealthy society girl Rose, the daughter of his mother’s employer. Doomed to love her from afar throughout adolescence and into early adulthood, Harry is forced to forget about her when he moves to Canada. But fate brings them together again when Rose also relocates to the same Canadian city. Can their love bloom now that the social divides have changed? (FIC MOOTOO)

A House for Mr. Biswas / by V.S. Naipaul
Born to Indian immigrants on the British colonial island of Trinidad, Mohun Biswas has been declared something of a bad seed since birth, a local Hindu prophet stating that he’d soon be the downfall of his parents and a constant bane to the local Indian community. Knowing this, Mohun has always yearned for a place to live, a place he can call his own even though it’s evident that luck is never on his side. But with his plucky initiative, it’s clear that Mr. Biswas is one islander who won’t be put down by obstacles. (FIC NAIPAUL)

Prospero’s Daughter / by Elizabeth Nunez
In this retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, fugitive English doctor Peter Gardner has managed to abscond with his three-year-old daughter, Virginia, to a small island off the coast of Trinidad. Befriending them there is five-year-old native boy Carlos who gradually entwines himself into the lives of the two new arrivals. (FIC NUNEZ)

Broken Paradise: A Novel / by Cecilia Samartin
In Cuba of 1956, cousins Nora and Alicia are members of the privileged class enjoying a life of lavish parties, fine dining and idyllic days at the beach. But in the coming years, as revolution washes over the island and Fidel Castro oversees the removal of aristocratic advantages, Nora and Alicia are forced to depart ways with Nora emigrating to America and Alicia staying behind. As the years then decades pass, the two keep in touch, each remembering a past gone forever amid an always uncertain present. (FIC SAMARTIN)

The Feast of the Goat / by Mario Vargas Llosa
In the final days of the Trujillo regime, the dictator himself goes about his business, seemingly waiting patiently for his impending assassination. Meanwhile his Secretary of State has sequestered himself and his family into self-imposed exile in another country. Nearly thirty years later the former secretary’s youngest daughter, Urania, returns to her birthplace to confront the after effects of her home country. (FIC VARGASLL)

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