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Unburnable Paperback – April 24, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
The story centers on three generations of Dominican women, two of which are infamously captured in local folklore, legend, and indigenous songs. Matilda, a proud, majestic African woman rumored to dabble in Obeah was publicly tried and hanged for murder after she confessed in police custody. Iris, Matilda's daughter, was a beautiful prostitute known for her voracious sexual appetite, disreputable past and questionable mental health. Lillian, Iris's daughter, was raised by her stepmother after Iris's untimely death. Lillian eventually moves to the United States to live with an aunt in order to shield her from her foremother's legacy. We learn quickly that the proverbial fruit does not fall far from the tree. After years of self-suppression, Lillian's mental instability manifests to the point where she now has difficulty blocking the painful memories. Fueled by inner voices and haunting flashbacks, she decides to return back to Dominica to learn the truth surrounding her family. She engages Teddy, a renowned attorney, collegiate confidante (and soon to be lover), who is basking in the afterglow of a sensationalized legal case where he successfully disproves a self-confession against tumultuous odds. Lillian sensing her grandmother's innocence, asks Teddy to join her in Dominica to re-investigate Matilda's 1940's era confession to mass murder.Read more ›
There are also a few scenes of surprising violence, too, written in such a way as to stun the reader, especially the female-on-female violence. That particular scene, which is referred to in reviews as the Coke-bottle rape, is just amazing in its ability to encompass the nature of the class structure of the day; and it also set off a chain of reactions that symbolized the beginning of the end for the light-skinned dominant class of that time in the Caribbean.Read more ›
While I am mindful that many writers hate being "compared" and although I concede that the literary styles, politics and and subject matters of the two novels are vastly different in many respects, there is a compelling case for comparing "Unburnable" with Jean Rhys' "Wide Sargasso Sea".
One obvious similarity is that both novels are set in Dominica (there must really be something magical about about that little rock); another is that both novels were authored by Caribbean women. The most important similarity, however, is that both authors insist that the Caribbean woman's (and by extension the Caribbean peoples') right to dignity must be acknowledged. Both authors are bellicose in their refusal to accept the self hatred which is part and parcel of the legacy of colonialism.
Alienation is an important theme in both novels. Antoinette in Wide Sargasso Sea and Lillian in Unburnable are women ill at ease in their environments, uncomfortable in her own skins, who nevertheless, fight tooth and nail to assert their right "to be".
Both novelists challenge the still prevailing view of polite Caribbean society that "obeah is wicked and its practitioners are charlatans; praise Jesus that our colonial masters liberated us with christianity". Christophine in Wide Sargasso Sea and Matilda in Unburnable are both healers and protectors; superheroines a la Wonder Woman, Mighty Isis and Xena Warrior Princess. They right wrongs, punish evil and defend the downtrodden. They are the christian god in earthly female form, with the appealing bonus of being strikingly beautiful. (An interesting aside: obeah is still illegal in most independent Caribbean states.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written...learned as lot about a different culture . Complex story with an ending you can't guess. Enjoyed this book immensely.Published 1 month ago by paula
This book was highly engaging , I couldn't put it down! Great perspective on the differences between Caribbean and African American blacks.Published 6 months ago by Alison Bain-Peachey
This novel perfectly captures the spirit of the Caribbean. In many ways the book transported to a place and time that I had never understood and I felt like I learned more about... Read morePublished 9 months ago by arica
I highly recommend joining a book club because it challenges you to read books outside your preferred genre and/or comfort zone. Read morePublished on July 9, 2014 by Michael Guss
What I liked most about this book is the vivid imagery the reader is presented with. On the other hand, there were times when I'm reading and it seemed like there is some... Read morePublished on July 8, 2014 by stacey b
This story should ring true to anyone from Dominica who has acquired an outside perspective. It describes the exact nature of our island and the trauma associated with some of our... Read morePublished on December 17, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Product was as described online and shipment was fast. Product was reasonably priced. Content was informative. Great doing business with you.Published on December 14, 2012 by A. Lindsay
Oddly enough, I was assigned to read this book at random by my professor for a publication class in which we are to practice reading generic, terrible, and mind numbing manuscripts... Read morePublished on August 23, 2012 by TGWilliams