Land of Love and Drowning: A Novel Hardcover – Jul 10 2014
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"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
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.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
If you're reading this with the hopes of getting a peek into the culture in the Virgin Islands, then sure, you have the potential of enjoying it. But if you're expecting the typical dramatic structure with rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement, you might as well as skip this book. The best way to describe the excitement in this book is "a plateau all the way through, with slight blips at odd intervals". And it's not just me! I read this for a book club and we all basically just ended up spending two hours analysing why the book didn't work for any of us.
There is also potentially uncomfortable subject matter that is a rather pervasive element in this book.
****SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT****
Here's a synopsis:
Man is married and has two daughters. He is in a sexual relationship with his eldest daughter (preteen). He tries to distract himself from his incestuous desires by having an affair with another married woman, and they have a baby son called Jacob Esau.
Eldest daughter, Eona, grows up and has a daddy complex but decides to marry rich young man. Father is heartbroken and is implied to have committed suicide over this. Family's only real source of income is gone, and family is now in disgrace.
Younger sister Anette grows up and marries a square (Ronald), who ends up serving in the US in the same company as Jacob. Anette is pregnant and has a child, Ronalda. Jacob falls in love with Anette from his buddy Ronald's photograph of his wife.
Anette divorces Ronald and has a torrid romance with Jacob. Anette has second daughter, Youme, with Jacob. Jacob decides to go to the US to study as a doctor to make something of himself before marrying Anette. Jacob foolishly does not write home for nearly half a year, so Anette abandons Jacob and marries Franky, a childhood friend who's had the hots for Anette since they were kids. They have Frank Jr.
Meanwhile, Eona runs off and ends up in an abusive relationship with Jacob's mom's first husband. Eona miscarries and returns home.
Jacob and Anette lie and cheat on their respective spouses and sit on a beach together, reading a letter from their daughter.
I skipped some soap opera drama as it were, but the entire story is ridiculous and would have been easily prevented if either Jacob's mother or Eona had spoken up. And although all this stuff happens, the book manages to make you feel as though nothing has happened at all.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
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.
I read this for a book club over the summer because we wanted something tropical & written by a woman. It was difficult to get into at first but once the explicit sexual content unnerved me, it made me want to read more in order to gain my comfort back (good job, Ms. Yanique). I'm still not sure if I feel comfortable even at the end but I'm still thinking about the book. Like the ocean, this book ebbed and flowed, drowning me (see what I did there?) and then bringing me back up for air. The relationship between family, friends, lovers, expectations, status, race, America, made me question our culture and my own understanding of what is natural and Real.
Ms. Yanique did a wonderful job of speaking many voices throughout the novel. I take off one star because sometimes, certain nuances and details were more difficult to follow than I'd like. But that may have been a tool she used to get me, and others like me, to read the novel again. Too bad there are way too many books out there so I can't/won't prioritize it.
Overall, I would recommend this book to someone who is interested in the the history of the Virgin Islands and the blurred lines created by love and water.
That is my prelude to Piphanie Yanique’s new novel, Land of Love and Drowning, that, in spite of its very choppy prose-style, held my attention because of its content. Years ago my now-husband and his then elementary-school-age son and I spent a week camping out on St. John. (I’m so not into tenting and especially in a place with wild donkeys that roam freely, searching for food which they found in our site.) I still recall waiting for hours in the San Juan airport for a plane to arrive from St. Thomas to take us to our Charlotte-Amalie destination. I was introduction to “island time.” And then that airport—one in which a landing appears to be a crash one because the airport is up against the mountain, a volcanic one, that created the island. Then there was the barge-like ferry ride to St. John—the boat had clear evidence of rot. Then what the islanders call some type of bus: a tiny pick-up truck in which we passengers clung onto whatever we could, mostly each other—the tailgate was missing—as it wound its way up a steep hill. St. John is essentially a mountain and has two tiny adorable villages but a vastness of resort hotels. And this is some of what this debut novel is about: the spoiling of these islands by large corporations, just what Cubans will soon experience.
Then when Stefan and I moved to Key West 20 years ago, I was introduced to the vastness and breadth of Caribbeans who lived there, mostly Cubans but also some from other islands.
This novel provides a window into the people of the United States Virgin Islands. I was raised in an all-white society (in Vermont) with a belief system about family that is far different from what existed (still exists) in these islands where it is more common than not for men to sire children with mistresses, including mistresses who are married to other men. The culture is one of white-men’s religion (mostly Catholicism) and the voodoo-type religions that would have come from Africa. The islands are far more racially mixed than the United States was. But even on the island a really black person who considered less than the ones whose skin was mango colored.
The novel centers around the captain of a ship and both his wife and his mistress who is married and has children by that husband. The captain has two daughters by his wife who has “island ways” of aborting many other potential babies. And he has a son by the married woman who raises the boy (Esau is his middle name) as if he were the son of her husband. The novel becomes a saga (somewhat an epic actually) about what happened to the islands once they were turned over from the Danes to the United States in 1917. It is a history lesson as well as a geography one—and that history includes the racism that comes with any history of the United States.
I have taught so many college students whose roots are in these islands. Many were born there. But many were not. And it is the many who were not who more often than not know little about their island roots.
The elder daughter, Eeona, is a story teller, a beauty who never finds a man to marry. The other daughter , Anette, seems more typical of women on these islands: she goes in and out of marriages and has children including one with… Nope, I won’t tell.
It is the voice of Anette that I find unbelievable because she does become educated, becomes a history teacher (we learn that people in the Virgin Islands don’t think it important to learn their history, to have it taught!), yet she speaks in the accent, the syntax, the grammar of the islanders. I found myself enjoying the lilt of her language—but I never believed her as an authentic first-person narrator.
The scene with Hurricane Mary is very unbelievable. The author would have done well to have read other writers’ descriptions of them.
And, of course, in the end, everything circles back as is true of a narrative like this.
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Family Life
- Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Family Saga
- Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical > Cultural Heritage
- Books > Literature & Fiction > Literary
- Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > African American > Historical
- Books > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Australian & Oceania