Set against the colorful backdrop of the Virgin Islands from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning weaves an intricate tale of the legacy of an island family as it grapples with love, magic and death over more than six decades. A heartbroken patriarch purposefully sinks his ship into the Caribbean, leaving two daughters and their half-brother to make their own way, each in possession of a particular magic and unusual beauty.

Rumors of witchcraft, adultery and incest surround the orphaned Bradshaw children, and as the siblings set out to form their own future on the steadily changing island, they discover family is important, but also inescapable. The islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and tourism becomes king; however, just as St. Thomas is coming into the modern world, a fearsome hurricane reveals forgotten priorities.

Tiphanie Yanique is a native of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and the author of the story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony. Alternately told in neat, concise speech and fiery Caribbean dialect, Land of Love and Drowning is well researched—much of Yanique’s family history is woven into the storyline—and the novel’s careful structure keeps the reader from getting lost amid the historical context. Yanique’s vivid writing, echoing Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez, builds a whole world within its language and cadence. Exhilarating, fierce and effortless, Land of Love and Drowning is the imaginative tale of a family’s fight to endure.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 

ALSO ON BOOKPAGE.COM: Read Tiphanie Yanique's behind-the-book story for Land of Love and Drowning.

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