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How to Escape from a Leper Colony: A Novella and Stories Paperback – March 2, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The effects of colonialism throb in Yanique's vivid debut collection. The chilling title story is set in 1939, when the Trinidadian island of Chacachacare was still used as a leper colony; the narrator, a 14-year-old orphan with leprosy, befriends a curious boy her age, Lazaro, whose mother was murdered there when he was a baby, and whose troubled relationship with the nuns leads him to a terrible retribution. The Bridge Stories are elucidating snapshots of islanders struggling to carve out lives for themselves on St. Thomas and elsewhere amid an exploitative tourist economy. Yanique frequently dips into rich, fanciful vernacular, such as in Street Man, a beautiful, sad glimpse at a doomed love affair between a college student and a St. Croix local. In the affecting novella, International Shop of Coffins, Yanique depicts characters of mixed African/Creole/Indian descent torn between the white and island worlds in all their complexity and conflictedness. A smattering of dark humor leavens the tense narratives as Yanique penetrates the perils and pleasures of lives lived outside resort walls. (Mar.)
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In her debut short-story collection, Yanique, a native of the Virgin Islands, offers magical and mysterious tales about how people seek to or fail to penetrate the hard and soft differences between themselves. In the title story, inhabitants of an island leper colony must bear their disease and its isolation but cannot bear sacrilege. Interwoven stories of a bridge between islands illustrate how casually lives cross, though few connections are made for a woman in a burka, a fisherman, and a beauty queen. A St. Croix drug dealer takes up with a college girl who spends more than half the year in the U.S. Two women play out the intergenerational and mixed-race tensions between their families. A Ghanaian boy grows up in Britain struggling to overcome an emotional sickness that lingers into adulthood. A coffin shop in the Virgin Islands offers imported wares that are often works of art, evocative of life back in Ghana for the Catholic priest who frequents the shop and is its greatest source of business on his recommendations. Lovers of the form will appreciate this collection. --Vanessa Bush
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When I finally got around to getting it I was surprised and delighted by the freshness of the author's point of view. The stories have the usual points of interest but are tinged a the unique taste of humor. Spicy but not too hot. Great!
A relief to read this kind of thoughtful exploration of life in the Caribbean islands, especially St. Thomas.