Wednesday, June 04, 2014

2014 book 123

Tiphanie Yanique's Land of Love and Drowning
I'm not sure where to start with this one. Can you enjoy, and find beautiful, a novel that has multiple instances of incest? Because I did enjoy it and find it beautiful, but unsettling just the same. (As a reader, I also generally dislike books where the plot wouldn't exist if just ONE character was willing to have an honest conversation, so this did lose some points in that regard.) Anyway, this is sort of an epic novel about a family on the Virgin Islands, from the early part of the 1900s up through the late 60s, touching on a lot of fascinating cultural things going on then, interspersed with magic and mythology. The main characters are the family's two daughters, both strong and interesting women and narrators of their own histories. (I really like the way Yanique tells this story--the use of multiple narrators is really well-done.) An author's note at the end reveals that this was partially written in response to Herman Wouk's Don't Stop The Carnival (!!!), one of the few Wouk books I haven't read (though this makes me want to), but it's clearly also inspired by Yanique's own family history. Really a lush, atmospheric, otherworldly novel--but with some distressing elements, for sure. A-/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in July.

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