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Land of Love and Drowning: A Novel Hardcover – July 10, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The Virgin Islands is the main character in this debut novel. St. Thomas, like its inhabitants, comes of age after it transfers from Danish to American rule in the early 1900s. Distinctive multiple narrators tell the story of the wealthy Captain and his beautiful but "wild" wife, Antoinette; his daughters, Eeona and Anette; and his son Jacob, conceived with his mistress. When Bradshaw's ship sinks, taking the lives of his crew with him, the island and his family are changed forever. Eeona longs to escape the islands, Anette craves the security of a committed relationship, and Jacob falls in love with the wrong woman. History is reflected in their lives and times: when World War II breaks out, Jacob and his friends head to the mainland as soldiers only to face a racism that did not exist at home; the rise of civil rights on the mainland fuels a growing rebellion on St. Thomas. Mature themes weave throughout these stories, including sexuality and incest. Recommend to teens who enjoy strong characters, a tumultuous historical time period, and a setting that embraces music, madness, and Caribbean magic.—Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA
"Yanique spins a series of seductive tales covering six decades and three generations living in the Virgin Islands in her first novel, which draws upon her own family history."—NPR, Great Reads of 2014
"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."—NPR.org
"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
Top customer reviews
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. I'm just a single reviewer and, while I appreciate the education and feel enriched by the story, it doesn't take away from the fact that I had to push myself to get past those first 100 pages.
I think Yanique is going to be an author to watch. She tied the civil rights movement in to the lives being lived in the USVI in a way I've never seen before. She talked about characters that were familiar to me from my readings in other areas (Western African literature and Native American). I was thrilled to see a version of the trickster that I don't come across often being spoken of and I was entranced by the idea of the duane.
More than anything else, LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING has kindled a curiosity in me about the USVI and the British Virgin Islands. I want to know more and, if the other books I find that take on these subjects and the locations are only half as good as LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING, then I consider myself fortunate.