The Ghost of Bridgetown
By Debra Spark
(Graywolf Press, Hardcover, 9781555973520, 312pp.)
Publication Date: July 2001
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A duppy, he explained, wouldn't enter a building without first counting all the grains of sand at the door, and, math whiz or no, your average duppy couldn't do that before daybreak, the hour when all duppies are due back at their graves. But the ghost of Bridgetown-- apparently, he hadn't so much as flinched at the sand. He'd stepped right over the pile and into the bar. He'd ordered himself a beer and insisted, once again, that he'd never died.
When Charlotte Lewin's grandfather offers to send her to Barbados on a special mission, he believes he is sending her on a much-needed vacation, following the death of Charlotte's sister. The mission seems simple enough: to return a long-forgotten, jewel-encrusted menorah to its rightful owner on the island. However, Charlotte soon finds herself navigating her way through unsettling racial tensions-- between white Jews, black Jews, and the native community.
In the oppressive Barbados heat where the body can't hide its own discomfort, Charlotte ends up sitting side-by-side at a bar with the ghost of Bridgetown himself. And when the startling ramifications of a bizarre parachuting accident threaten to unravel the precarious peace, it is Charlotte who struggles to find the answers. Her emotional entanglement with the people of the island leads to a search, not just to find a home for the menorah, but also for her own place in the world.
The Ghost of Bridgetown is a powerful second novel, a worthy offering to what the Boston Book Review calls Spark's "broad and devoted following of readers."
Debra Spark is the celebrated author of the novel Coconuts for the Saint and the editor of the anthology Twenty Under Thirty. She lives in Maine and teaches at Colby College and in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
"The Ghost of Bridgetown is the story of a woman traveling to Barbados to return an artifact; however, that does little to convey this beautifully complex novel of identity and discovery. Debra Spark writes with remarkable precision and clarity, which permits the connections in the interlinking threads of the story to emerge gracefully and lock together powerfully. But what is most impressive about this novel is its power to utterly transport the reader-- one of the surest signs of extraordinary fiction. The Ghost of Bridgetown is an impressive literary feat, and Debra Spark is surely one of the very finest writers of her generation."--Robert Boswell
"In this intelligent, often bitingly funny exploration of liberal guilt and confusion, Spark's utterly believable characters balance on the razor's edge between justice and mercy, truth and love. The result is an edgy and unusual novel."--Andrea Barrett
"What begins as something of a ghost story, a shaggy-menorah story, winds up being a profound meditation on human hauntedness, the inevitability of ghostliness and grief. This is a beautiful, wise, and enormously moving novel."--David Shields