Elizabeth Nunez

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Elizabeth Nunez

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Trinidad and Tobago

Member Since
March 2016

Elizabeth Nunez is the award-winning author of multiple titles, the latest of which is her novel Even in Paradise. Her novels Boundaries and Anna In-Between were New York Times Editors’ Choices. Anna In-Between won the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award and was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Nunez also received the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction for her memoir Not for Everyday Use, the 2011 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers and Barnes & Noble, an American Book Award, and a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad & Tobago National Library. She is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, CUNY, where she teaches fiction writing. She divides her time between ...more

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Elizabeth Nunez The two older daughters in King Lear are unforgivingly wicked. My book, Even in Paradise , which is set in the Caribbean, unearths the source of…moreThe two older daughters in King Lear are unforgivingly wicked. My book, Even in Paradise , which is set in the Caribbean, unearths the source of their resentment of their youngest sister and their cold disregard for their father’s wellbeing.

In Holinshed’s Chronicles , Shakespeare’s source for King Lear, the husbands of Lear’s two daughters are the cruelest of all the characters. It is they—Albany, the husband of Lear’s eldest daughter, Goneril, and Cornwall, the husband of Lear’s middle daughter, Regan—who conspire to take over Lear’s reign and to strip him of his lands and fortune.

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, however, Goneril and Regan are the evil ones, though one of the husbands is just as bad. Why the women? one might ask. But that’s for another discussion. Still, the pivotal scene that sets off the action in Shakespeare’s play is not much different from the Holinshed source. King Lear decides to distribute his property and power to his three daughters based on whose declaration of love for him proves that she loves him best. Most writers and scholars (mainly male, it seems to me) sympathize with Lear for his intemperate decision. Lear is advanced in age, they argue, and his actions are not inconsistent for an elderly man approaching senility. Female writers, though, are more interested in the daughters’ reactions than in Lear’s folly or lack of it. What seems to be missing in that early scene when Lear disinherits his youngest daughter is tension between the two older sisters and the youngest one.

Though far be it for me to edit the grand master playwright, for this exercise one could conceive of a quarrel among the siblings after the two older ones extravagantly swear their undying love for their father and the youngest offers him only half her love.

Such a quarrel would go somewhat like this: Regan, the middle daughter, mildly chastises her father for coddling his youngest daughter, Cordelia, as if she were still a baby. Lear responds that he regrets making that mistake, but his youngest daughter was a baby when her mother died and he was trying his best to comfort her. His eldest daughter, Goneril, chimes in sarcastically that Lear got what comes from spoiling and pampering Cordelia for years. She says that Cordelia took advantage of her father’s goodness and sweet nature. Cordelia protests that she loves her father very much, but she cannot give him all her love. She adds that even the Bible cautions a wife to leave her parents behind and cling to her spouse. She points to Ruth who abandons her family and goes to live with her husband’s family, staying with them even after her husband dies. Goneril accuses Cordelia of spouting sanctimonious mumbo jumbo, but the die has been cast, and Lear falls for the flattery of his two older daughters and disinherits Cordelia.

I set my novel Even in Paradise in the twenty-first century Caribbean, allowing me to implicate the post-colonial world in a tragedy that nevertheless ends happily for some of the players.(less)
Elizabeth Nunez It’s difficult to say that Lear’s fool is my favorite, for though, like all Shakespeare’s fools, he tells the truth under the guise of humor, his…moreIt’s difficult to say that Lear’s fool is my favorite, for though, like all Shakespeare’s fools, he tells the truth under the guise of humor, his truth is particularly painful, delivered at a time when Lear has proof positive of his folly.  His gibes at Lear for succumbing to the flattery of his two older daughters and banishing the youngest who told him the truth are heartbreaking.  But as the fool says: “Truth’s a dog must to kennel.  He must be whipped out.”(less)
Average rating: 3.6 · 1,064 ratings · 187 reviews · 14 distinct worksSimilar authors
Prospero's Daughter

3.65 avg rating — 298 ratings — published 2006 — 13 editions
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Anna In-Between

3.58 avg rating — 138 ratings — published 2009 — 7 editions
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Bruised Hibiscus

3.77 avg rating — 124 ratings — published 1994 — 5 editions
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Even in Paradise

3.55 avg rating — 114 ratings — published 2016 — 4 editions
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3.30 avg rating — 82 ratings — published 2003 — 13 editions
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3.38 avg rating — 79 ratings — published 2011 — 3 editions
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Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir

3.45 avg rating — 76 ratings — published 2014 — 6 editions
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Beyond The Limbo Silence

3.57 avg rating — 60 ratings — published 1998 — 3 editions
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3.90 avg rating — 50 ratings — published 2002 — 12 editions
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Stories from Blue Latitudes...

3.85 avg rating — 26 ratings — published 2005
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“Slaveowners in America were torturing the Africans they enslaved for reading, but the British had discovered the hard way of truth of the maxim - Nature abhors a vacuum. Fill their minds with your stories and they will adore you; leave their minds free to roam and they will hatch plans to destroy you" (181).”
Elizabeth Nunez, Boundaries

“The oppressed are sometimes the most rabid of oppressors" (119).”
Elizabeth Nunez, Boundaries

Topics Mentioning This Author

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Caribbean Authors: Puerto Rico - Trinidad & Tobago 3 131 Nov 06, 2009 03:59AM  
Literary Fiction ...: Coming Attractions - 2011 52 118 Dec 27, 2011 10:34PM  
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Around the World ...: Linda S 2011-12 Trekker 26 58 Jul 05, 2012 03:12PM  
Around the World ...: Dlmrose- 2012 Frequent Flyer 80 150 Dec 27, 2012 11:12AM  
Around the World ...: Evana - Circumnavigator 12 66 Feb 24, 2013 07:39AM  
Is the incest part of the novel necessary to the plot and the themes in the novel? 1 1 Dec 31, 2013 04:20PM  
Island State of Mind: 2014 Caribbean Books - USA Release 3 3 Mar 18, 2014 01:37PM  
Great African Reads: * General Chatter 14 65 Apr 25, 2014 01:21AM  

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