All Roads Lead to Brooklyn - Part II (Warm Places - Western Hemisphere)

A High Wind in Jamaica (New York Review of Books Classics Series) by Richard Hughes: Book Cover$14.95 Paperback / NYRB Classics

  • The five Bas-Thornton children must leave their parents in Jamaica after a terrible hurricane blows down their family home. Accompanied by their Creole friends, the Fernandez children, they board a ship that is almost immediately set upon by pirates. The children take to corsair life coolly and matter-of-factly; just as coolly do they commit horrible deeds, and have horrible deeds visited upon them. First published in 1929, Richard Hughes’s A High Wind in Jamaica has been compared to Lord of the Flies in its unflinching portrayal of innocence corrupted.$15.95 Paperback / Random House

  • A House for Mr. Biswas is considered by some to be the early masterpiece of V. S. Naipaul’s brilliant career, set on the island of Trinidad and inspired by Naipaul’s father. In his 46 short years, Mr. Mohun Biswas has been fighting against destiny to achieve some semblance of independence, only to face a lifetime of calamity. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning death of his father, for which he is inadvertently responsible, Mr. Biswas yearns for a place he can call home. But when he marries into the domineering Tulsi family on whom he indignantly becomes dependent, Mr. Biswas embarks on an arduous–and endless–struggle to weaken their hold over him and purchase a house of his own.

$14.95 Paperback / Random House

  • While delivering a message to her father, Florentino Ariza spots the barely pubescent Fermina Daza and immediately falls in love. What follows in Love in the Time of Cholera is the story of a passion that extends over 50 years, as Fermina is courted solely by letter, decisively rejects her suitor when he first speaks, and then joins the urbane Dr. Juvenal Urbino, much above her station, in a marriage initially loveless but ultimately remarkable in its strength. Florentino remains faithful in his fashion; paralleling the tale of the marriage is that of his numerous liaisons, all ultimately without the depth of love he again declares at Urbino’s death. In substance and style not as fantastical, as mythologizing, as the previous works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this is a compelling exploration of the myths we make of love.

All Souls' Rising by Madison Smartt Bell: Book CoverMaster of the Crossroads by Madison Smartt Bell: Book CoverThe Stone That the Builder Refused by Madison Smartt Bell: Book Cover

  • A step across the Caribbean and a couple of hundreds years into history brings us to All Souls’ Rising, the first installment in Madison Smartt Bell’s epic Haitian trilogy. Set at a decisive moment in the history of race, class, and colonialism, the slave uprising in Haiti was a momentous contribution to the tide of revolution that swept over the Western world at the end of the 1700s. A brutal rebellion that strove to overturn a vicious system of slavery, the uprising successfully transformed Haiti from a European colony to the world’s first Black republic. From the center of this horrific maelstrom, the heroic figure of Toussaint Louverture–a loyal, literate slave and both a devout Catholic and Vodouisant–emerges as the man who will take the merciless fires of violence and vengeance and forge a revolutionary war fueled by liberty and equality. Master of the Crossroads and The Stone that the Builder Refused continue the story in similar style.

The Comedians by Graham Greene: Book Cover$16.00 Paperback / Penguin

  • Graham Greene takes us closer to modern Haiti with The Comedians. Three men meet on a ship bound for Haiti, a world in the grip of the corrupt “Papa Doc” and the Tontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Brown the hotelier, Smith the innocent American, and Jones the confidence man—these are the “comedians” of Greene’s title. Hiding behind their actors’ masks, they hesitate on the edge of life. They are men afraid of love, afraid of pain, afraid of fear itself.

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat: Book Cover$14.00 Paperback / Random House

  • Moving ahead in time, Haitian-born Edwidge Danticat’s novel, The Dew Breaker, focuses on the lives affected by a “dew breaker,” or torturer of Haitian dissidents under Duvalier’s regime. Each chapter reveals the titular man from another viewpoint, including that of his grown daughter, who, on a trip she takes with him to Florida, learns the secret of his violent past and those of the Haitian boarders renting basement rooms in his Brooklyn home. This structure allows Danticat to move easily back and forth in time and place, from 1967 Haiti to present-day Florida, tracking diverse threads within the larger narrative.

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux: Book Cover$14.95 Paperback / Houghton Mifflin

  • Better known for the accounts of his travels to exotic locales, Paul Theroux tells a breathtaking adventure story in The Mosquito Coast. The paranoid and brilliant inventor Allie Fox takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle, determined to build a civilization better than the one they’ve left. Fleeing from an America he sees as mired in materialism and conformity, he hopes to rediscover a purer life. But his utopian experiment takes a dark turn when his obsessions lead the family toward unimaginable danger.

$14.99 Paperback / Harper Collins

  • Geoffrey Firmin, a former British consul, has come to Quauhnahuac, Mexico. His debilitating malaise is drinking, an activity that has overshadowed his life. On the most fateful day of the consul’s life—the Day of the Dead, 1938—his wife, Yvonne, arrives in Quauhnahuac, inspired by a vision of life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. She is determined to rescue Firmin and their failing marriage, but her mission is further complicated by the presence of Hugh, the consul’s half brother, and Jacques, a childhood friend. The events of this one significant day unfold Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano against an unforgettable backdrop of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: Book Cover$13.95 Paperback / Norton

  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who grew up in the West Indies on a decaying plantation. When she comes of age she is married off to an Englishman, and he takes her away from the only place she has known—a house with a garden where “the paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest tree ferns, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched.” The novel is Rhys’s answer to Jane Eyre, which had long haunted her, mostly for the story it did not tell—that of the madwoman in the attic, Rochester’s terrible secret. Antoinette is Rhys’s imagining of that locked-up woman, who in the end burns up the house and herself.

One Response to “All Roads Lead to Brooklyn - Part II (Warm Places - Western Hemisphere)”

  1. twf says:

    If you want to get a visual idea of Toussaint — re: your All Souls’ Rising books — you can go to and see a clip from the award-winning short film “The Last Days of Toussaint L’Ouverture.”

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