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Land of Love and Drowning: A Novel Hardcover – July 10, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1ST edition (July 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488337
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"It's a tired cliché to call a place a character, but in Tiphanie Yanique's gorgeous debut, St.Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands makes for a textured and fascinating protagonist. At the beginning of the novel, in the early 20th century, the island is in flux as it goes from Danish to American ownership. At the same time, sisters Eeona and Anette find their fortunes changing drastically when their father, Captain Owen Arthur Bradshaw, who's something of a local legend, drowns in a shipwreck. The untouchably beautiful Eeona and the earthy but equally seductive Anette must evolve and fend for themselves as Saint Thomas becomes a tourist hot spot and their dead father's secrets continue to haunt them at every turn—as we're often reminded, it's a small island. Yanique's many artful touches—switched perspectives, deeply idiomatic dialogue, island folklore, strokes of magical realism—are so arresting that it's easy to overlook the mastery involved in intertwining the history of a place and the lives of two unforgettable women."—Entertainment Weekly

"In Land of Love and Drowning, three generations of beautiful Bradshaw women bewitch the men of St. Thomas through the islands' transfer to American control, World War II, segregation and the aftermath of a catastrophic hurricane. Secrets and jealousies shadow the relationship between two sisters and set them apart from other islanders as they all lurch through historical changes. . . . Yanique has written the best kind of summer read—lurid, yet layered and literary."—

"A feat of tropical magical realism.”—Vanity Fair


“Sink or swim is the guiding theme in this fantastical, generational novel.”—Marie Claire

"This hypnotic tale tracks a Virgin Islands family through three generations of blessings and curses. It starts in 1900, with a shipwreck that orphans two sisters and the half-brother they've just met, and then spinso out magic, mayhem, and passion."—Good Housekeeping

"A debut novel about three generations of a Caribbean family. It reads lush and is graced with rotating narrators, each of whom has a distinct and powerful voice."—USA Today

"The novel provides readers with beautiful, imaginative prose via a story set in the Virgin Islands.”—Ebony

"Through the voices and lives of its native people, Yanique offers an affecting narrative of the Virgin Islands that pulses with life, vitality, and a haunting evocation of place."—Publishers Weekly (starred)

"Bubbling with talent and ambition, this novel is a head-spinning Caribbean cocktail."—Kirkus (starred)

“A few years ago, Tiphanie Yanique wowed us with her phenomenal story collection, How to Escape from a Leper Colony. Now she brings us this astonishing and wondrous novel. Multilayered, multigenerational and epic in both talent and scope, Land of Love and Drowning is a stunning first novel about family, history, home and much, much more. Tiphanie Yanique’s tremendous talents and incredible storytelling will astound you and leave you breathless.”—Edwidge Danticat

Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous incantation of a novel, a masterly fusion of place, language, and seductive storytelling that will hold you spellbound from its first pages to the last. Tiphanie Yanique takes on all of it—the bitter and the sweet, love and loss, betrayal and faith, as well as the distant machinations of state that push us about like so many minnows on ocean tides—and does so with a grace and a wisdom that are nothing short of profound. This book is an absolute marvel.”—Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Land of Love and Drowning is a marvel—epic and sweeping, yet intimate as a secret. It’s a tour de force combining naturalism and lyricism, myth and history. This is a story that feels ancient and modern at the same time. Tiphanie Yanique is a prodigiously talented new writer with a sharp voice, wicked humor, and compassion beyond measure.”—Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

“What a miracle this book is. Tiphanie Yanique unites the sweep of history and the tenderest movements of the heart in writing so beautiful it’s breathtaking. Both an epic and a three-generation love poem, it’s irresistible.”—Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Sky Below

“In Land of Love and Drowning, Tiphanie Yanique paints a poignant, electrifying panorama of the Virgin Islands. Breaking writerly rules left and right, Yanique’s sentences seem effortless, free. Yet watch as these assemble into a family saga of unforgettable gravitas. A magnificent story, marvelously told.”—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn

About the Author

Tiphanie Yanique is from Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands. The author of the story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony, she is a 2010 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award winner and was named by the National Book Awards as one of 2011’s “5 Under 35.”  She teaches at the New School and lives in Brooklyn and Saint Thomas.

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Customer Reviews

I just really hated the story line.
A. Looby
I finished LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING by Tiphanie Yanique last night and I dreamed I was in her world all through the night and woke up in a daze this morning.
The book was well written with beautiful, enchanting descriptions of the island and well defined (female) characters.
B. King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lydia TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
If you are any sort of reader you know that there are different categories of books. There's easy, light reads that can be finished in an afternoon, there's tense, gripping reads that won't release you until you turn the last page - and even then, you struggle with moving on from them for several days to weeks. And then there's the type of book that weaves a spell around you. It slowly entrances you in a way that hides the entrancement and, when you finish it, you end up dreaming about it and feeling caught in an otherwordly-type of spell. That's what I've been doing today. I finished LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING by Tiphanie Yanique last night and I dreamed I was in her world all through the night and woke up in a daze this morning.

That's some powerful storytelling, folks.

It's the kind of story-telling that I love, too. The incorporation of myths and gods, of tall tales and history; the weaving of all of these things until you don't know (or care) what is true and what's not. Add into it real events dealing with parts of the world I had never even heard of and... well, it was a heck of a story.

Still, there were some flaws. I wasn't gripped by the first 100 pages, in fact, I dabbled with putting the book down and not finishing it at all. While it was interesting, it was very strongly dealing with some issues that made me more than a little uncomfortable. As the book progressed, I understood more that it was more about symbolism and feminine power - but still, that's hard to grasp in the opening chapters of a book, especially if the story is one that's not often told. I have absolutely no doubt that people with a broader worldview than my own or more knowledge of the culture and society living in the USVI may view this differently.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C'est Moi VINE VOICE on July 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is so mesmerizing. You know that an author is a great storyteller when, despite the fact that you don't necessarily understand or feel comfortable with the story in its entirety, you don't want to put the book down or rush through all of it. Tiphanie Yanique's writing is captivating and evocative, and also disturbing at times.

"Land of Love and Drowning" is a story about a family and a community undergoing pivotal changes, the full consequences of which won't be understood until everyone is knee deep in it all. It's also about how the actions of parents influence the destinies of their children, and how a father can affect the way his daughter will choose to love and be loved as she grows older. In 1917, the Danish Virgin Islands have just become the United States Virgin Islands. This event brings about widespread hope and wonder, but it is a double-edged sword. Meanwhile, in St. Thomas the Bradshaw family's secret desires are all adding up to inevitable destruction. The resulting story is a magical blend of history, racial issues, war, family curses, ill-fated love, and Virgin Island folklore.

NOTE: The first few chapters deal with incest and are uncomfortable to read, as are the other times that the subject is brought up, but when you get through that you're in for a unique and enchanting story.

Yanique's characters are fully fleshed, complex individuals with distinct personalities (with the exception of Gertie, a character who is often mentioned but remains 1D). This book is not a light read, but rather a densely detailed multi-generational family saga spanning over half a century.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Biblioholic Beth VINE VOICE on August 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sometimes it's easy to say what a story is about. Murder. Romance. Fantasy. The words roll right off of the tongue. Other times, a story is so well-written, that it's much more difficult. The pieces all blend together so well that separating them into neat categories just doesn't seem to work. That is the case with 'Land of Love and Drowning'. The sum of it's parts is so much better than any simple label.

The Virgin Islands, around the time that they became part of America. Life was rich, though not necessarily with cash. Two girls, sisters, lived with their parents in a grand old home. They were tied to the sea - daddy a captain, mama from an island, both learning to swim as babies. One beautiful, one not. One a favorite of their father, the other, well...she stubborn. And then it begins to fall apart. Lives are changed with the smallest, and the grandest, of decisions - while the island is also changing. And everyone so intertwined with each other, and with the islands, that separation seems almost impossible.

The characters were truly what made this story for me. They are each complete in and of themselves, and in this I count the islands. Even the sea is written about in such a way that her character is amply demonstrated. There is a bit of a mystery in the book, and love, and death...quite simply, it's a novel about life. How it's lived, and how it changes us - sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.

I'm certain I'm not doing this story the justice it deserves. Quite simply - read the book. Read it, savor it, don't rush through it. And when you're done, if you're not going to read it again right away, share it with a friend. This is the kind of story that wants to be shared - as all stories do.
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