The True History of Paradise
By Margaret Cezair-Thompson
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812979831, 368pp.)
Publication Date: July 14, 2009
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It is 1981. Jean Landing secretly plans to flee her beloved Jamaica–the only home her family has ever known, a place now rife with political turmoil. But before she can make her final preparations, she receives devastating news: Lana, her sister, is dead. The country’s state of emergency leaves no time to arrange a proper funeral. Even Jean’s mother, Monica, who hadn’t spoken to Lana in more than a decade, cannot fully embrace her grief.
The tragedy only underscores Jean’s need to leave an island that holds no promise of a future. Her harrowing journey to freedom across a battered landscape takes Jean through a terrain of memories: of her childhood, with a detached mother at odds with an adoring father, of her complex bond with Lana, and of the friends and lovers who have shaped and shared her days. Epic in scope, The True History of Paradise poignantly portrays the complexities of family and racial identity in a troubled Eden.
Margaret Cezair-Thompson is the author of the widely acclaimed The Pirate’s Daughter, a #1 Book Sense pick, finalist for Book Sense Book of the Year, and winner of the first annual Essence literary award for fiction. Born in Jamaica, West Indies, she teaches literature and creative writing at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
“Skillfully crafted . . . marvelously evocative . . . conveys a vivid sense of many worlds folded into one.” —Washington Post Book World
“Authentic . . . convincing . . . Cezair-Thompson writes with such talent, grace, and confidence.” —New York Times Book Review
“Seductive . . . powerful . . . a heartbreakingly rich, beautiful story whose characters hauntingly embody their country’s travail. A very accomplished debut.” —Kirkus Reviews