Land of Love and Drowning
By Tiphanie Yanique
(Riverhead Books, Hardcover, 9781594488337, 368pp.)
Publication Date: July 10, 2014
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A major debut from an award-winning writer—an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands.
In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.
Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers
and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.
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.
In the Land of Love and Drowning, the islands are a magical setting for three generations of one family living through the modern history of the territory as it passes from Danish to American hands. More at NPR.org
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"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