Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

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message 1: by ColumbusReads (last edited Feb 02, 2015 03:14AM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Today begins our discussion of Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique. Has anyone started it? Finished it? Just started reading? In a long library queue awaiting availability? Here's some reviews on our featured author along with her website which holds a short bio and other valuable information on the book:

Website and Reviews:

Tiphanie Yaniques' website:
http://tiphanieyanique.com

San Francisco Chronicle:
http://m.sfgate.com/books/article/Lan...

Boston Globe:
http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books...

NPR (audio, text and excerpt):
http://www.npr.org/2014/07/27/3350208...


message 2: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments basically finished it. left it some 50 pages to the end. not my cuppa.


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I plan on starting reading tonight.


message 4: by George (new)

George | 763 comments I'm currently about 100 pages into it. I find it very interesting so far.


message 5: by Ardene (new)

Ardene (booksnpeaches) | 56 comments just starting


message 6: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
We'll start slowly to give more people time to get into the book. Maybe dive into the first section of the book by Wednesday, 4th.

So, anyone from USVI, British Virgin Islands or elsewhere in the caribbean reading the book? Care to share any information you have? Has any others read any fiction or non-fiction about the island? Frequent visitors to the island?

There's been very few books I can recall based on the Virgin Islands. Trinidad, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and maybe one or two others but not the V.I. I was very anxious to read this book to see how it compares and contrast to my idea of the island. I've been a frequent visitor since '02 with a biennial share of a unit on the island of St. Thomas. I really love it although crime seems to have become more of an issue in the last couple of years, or, at least that's the perception.

So, let's start the first section of the book, Freedom, on Wednesday at which time we'll have the rest of the schedule. Freedom is 90 pages long for those with the paper copy of the book. Is everyone comfortable with that?


message 7: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments Great Columbus.


message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard (richardv) I was born and raised in St Thomas, but I haven't read the book yet (although it's on my to read list this year!). So sorry I can't comment on the book yet, but I can answer any questions people have about the island.


message 9: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments So far I am having some trouble with some of the phrases in reference to the lime and mesple?


message 10: by Richard (new)

Richard (richardv) Mesple is a local fruit, kind of like a fig...


message 11: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Richard Vialet wrote: "I was born and raised in St Thomas, but I haven't read the book yet (although it's on my to read list this year!). So sorry I can't comment on the book yet, but I can answer any questions people ha..."

Oh cool, that's wonderful Richard. I may have some questions myself if you don't mind. I haven't been back since '11 but still have the vacation rental there. Had it since 2001. Can't get enough of the beaches and even the great dining establishments. Every time I return home I'm ready to go back.


message 12: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I think I have some strong opinions about this one.


message 13: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Yes, Rebecca, there's a lot going on in this book.


message 14: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "We'll start slowly to give more people time to get into the book. Maybe dive into the first section of the book by Wednesday, 4th.

So, anyone from USVI, British Virgin Islands or elsewhere in the..."


Yes, you got me to thinking I have a hard recalling fiction books based in the Virgin Islands. Now I am wondering why????

I have visited St Thomas, St Croix and Tortola several times.


message 15: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments Columbus wrote: "We'll start slowly to give more people time to get into the book. Maybe dive into the first section of the book by Wednesday, 4th.

So, anyone from USVI, British Virgin Islands or elsewhere in the..."


since i listened to the audiobook, could you give me sense of what happens at the end of Freedom, or maybe just tell me the chapter?


message 16: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Freedom closes on chapter 28 (Eeona).


message 17: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Here's the discussion schedule for Land of Love and Drowning. Members are reading in a variety of different ways: paper, ebook, audio, therefore I will list both the section titles and chapters instead of the pages. Remember, February with only 28 days so the schedule will be condensed. The schedule:

February 4-10:
Freedom (chaps 1-28)

February 11-21:
Belonging (chaps 29-60)

A Freedom (chaps 61-75)

A Belonging (chaps 76-81)

February 22 - 28:
Drown (chaps 82-85)

The Bomb (chaps (86-95)

Love (chaps 96-end)

If there are no exceptions to the schedule we can begin!


message 18: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Alright, with only 28 days in the month, let's jump right in here. I have several thoughts and questions to start off:

What do you think of the authors writing style? Does it work for you? Are you enjoying it? I loved the fluidity of her writing. This sort of material could lend itself to being rather dense and uninviting, but that's not the case here for me.

I've found in my experience that there's a sort of mysteriousness surrounding the V.I. so to begin the book in 1917 with the transfer of power from Danish to US rule was a smart one. This transfer is an official holiday in the V.I. and celebrated on March 31st. Any thoughts on this?

The very first chapter we meet Captain Owen Arthur Bradshaw. What's your initial thoughts on him?


message 19: by Rebecca (last edited Feb 04, 2015 10:02AM) (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I like the prose but for the the storyline is a bit tangled. The Jacob and Esau reference and shift in the storyline with Annette and Rebekah is an interesting choice. So can we expect Rebekah and her son's storyline to parallel with biblical times?

There seemed to be some dialect with Anette but then is goes away and I wondered about that.

Captain Bradshaw - I feel like he is so blinded by the lust of his daughter Eeona that he doesn't appear to be able to see beyond anything else. I think this is pretty all consuming for him. Since he dies early on I think his role isn't very crucial at this point but probably will be in the later life of Eona maybe? The fact that Annette had all these babies "washed away" without really noticing or saying anything to Eona about it left me really wondering. I was not surprised that he would go to Rebekah as an outlet for his relief.


message 20: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
While I read the book a little while ago, I do remember my initial thought of Captain Bradshaw - pervert!!


message 21: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "While I read the book a little while ago, I do remember my initial thought of Captain Bradshaw - pervert!!"

Yes, indeed Beverly. But, why stop there. He's a despicable hyphenate: pervert - adulterer - misogynist. Other than that he's a pretty good captain.


message 22: by Jean (last edited Feb 04, 2015 03:28PM) (new)

Jean | 140 comments Both of you are on target. Tiphanie, dropped these things such a matter of fact manner that I would go back to read the line again thinking, "Did she(Tiphanie) really say that he/she did such and such?


message 23: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Beverly wrote: "While I read the book a little while ago, I do remember my initial thought of Captain Bradshaw - pervert!!"

Yes, indeed Beverly. But, why stop there. He's a despicable hyphenate: p..."


LOL - yes he was a good sea captain. And I was interested in how his behavior would influence those around him - so it was an interesting beginning and set the tone for what was an interesting entertaining read for me.


message 24: by ColumbusReads (last edited Feb 04, 2015 11:42AM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Yes, Jean, that seems to be pretty much the consensus on that. You're like reading along and then you have to like flip back and go "oh, I know she didn't just say that."....and then she just continues on. Not really haphazardly or without reason or thought though. Just very nonchalantly. That's why I say in the beginning when the material could be a little dense or dull she makes it quite interesting.


message 25: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I agree with everyone so does anyone else wonder why the author put him in the storyline?


message 26: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Rebecca wrote: "I agree with everyone so does anyone else wonder why the author put him in the storyline?"

Well, how far are you into the book, Rebecca? I think you might find his relevance later on. And then maybe not.


message 27: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Do we have any Goodreads librarians in the group? I'm still trying to figure out why the ratings disappear every other day. I have to manually add the book title to "this topic is about" every other day.


message 28: by Rebecca (last edited Feb 05, 2015 12:30PM) (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments Just the first part of the reading. Good to know. Have others read Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones?


message 29: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Columbus, you can ask in the moderators group.

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...


message 30: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Rebecca wrote: "Just the first part of the reading. Good to know. Have others read Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones?"

Yes, loved that. We read as a group about two years ago.


message 31: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Wilhelmina wrote: "Columbus, you can ask in the moderators group.

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/..."


Ok, thanks.


message 32: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I was just thinking and trying to remember it was written quite differently from this one, but dealt with the feelings of sisters. Not really comparing the two but enjoying the difference.
I also loved it.


message 33: by ColumbusReads (last edited Feb 05, 2015 01:17PM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Well, now that you brought up the two sisters we might as well talk about them. We find early on that these two sisters are quite different from each other. I can't locate the passage now but Eeona even mentions she's a little more refined than Anette. She's had quite a different upbringing than her. Even their speech or dialect is different. Are you more attracted to one over the other and I don't mean aesthetically but personality and what causes this difference.

Rebecca, it's really funny you should bring up the sister dynamics here because I was thinking about a different sister relationship, that in Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun. Another book that was not too shabby.


message 34: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I think Silver Sparrow it was more raw and beautiful but in this book it for me I tend to feel the Yuk factor and that it is more perverse in the way of incest and sinfulness. I felt the creep factor too.

How did Adichie portray it. I need to read that book still.


message 35: by George (last edited Feb 06, 2015 10:02AM) (new)

George | 763 comments I certainly understand the emotional reaction to the strong Yuk factor, but to me the story feels more like mythology than something straightforward and fact based. It's difficult to say that the characters are entirely human in some cases and are motivated and propelled in ways we barely understand, much less would accept in real life. If we judged the some of the various personalities in the Bible, much less the works we more generally accept as mythology I doubt many would stand up much better. The Fates seem to be intervening in mysterious ways and I don't think obeah alone accounts for much of it. So, I personally felt much less traditionally judgemental in approaching the characters and the events in this book, alhtough I certainly would be in real life. I'm not big on the Spider later on though.

I'm still trying to puzzle out the importance of the various names, although it would seem critical in approaching them, Jacob/Esau in particular.

the sisters seem mirror images of each other to me. Eeoni is very conservative and traditional, unaccepting of her own emotions, except when she isn't. Anette is all emotion and feeling, in the beginning anyway and not terribly concerned with societal norms or in the maintenance of her status in VI society.

anyway, I personally like the book very much and am on the verge of finishing it.


message 36: by ColumbusReads (last edited Feb 05, 2015 05:12PM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Rebecca wrote: "I think Silver Sparrow it was more raw and beautiful but in this book it for me I tend to feel the Yuk factor and that it is more perverse in the way of incest and sinfulness. I felt the creep fact..."

Well, I guess the similarities are the same in that the three books were about two sisters that pretty much made up the dynamics of the household bedsides the parents. Of course with this book there's step siblings involved.

The two sisters in Yellow Sun were bright, brilliant, adventurous, well-established sisters, but they were still very different from each other. One so pretty she could sink ships as the story goes (this would be the Eeoni character) and the other just so-so (Annette). Just thought it funny that we both were thinking of other books that involved sisters.


message 37: by jo (last edited Feb 05, 2015 06:01PM) (new)

jo | 1031 comments ah. the book that came to mind to me was Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, for the incest theme.

i think george is right, the theme of incest plays a large role in all mythologies, including the christian one (lot's daughters -- are there other cases?) so once we are done with being disturbed or disgusted or aroused, depending on our history and psychology (i was all three), it would be interesting to figure out why yanique decided to root this specific mythology in incest.


message 38: by Rebecca (last edited Feb 05, 2015 06:13PM) (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments Of course Columbus we have great minds. ;)


message 39: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments this is going a bit ahead of the page limits set thus far so i'll be vague, but a way of reading the original incest that does not cast it solely in morally repellent tones would be as a story set-up, as a sort of mythical beginning. for instance, just like we read adam and eve's betrayal of god in genesis as a necessary condition for the beginning of humanity and the incarnation (so, as the christians (catholics?) among us say at easter, felix culpa, or happy fault, because it brought us jesus), so, in this parable, the original incest between owen arthur bradshaw and his beloved daughter eeona sets things in motion in a certain way -- not necessarily in a good way, but still, we can talk about how things evolve from that original sin.

maybe one reading is in terms of obeah, i.e. the forbidden love of owen arthur and eeona lays/represents a curse on the islands and explain their constant state of colonization and destruction. or maybe what happens between owen arthur and eeona is the legacy of slavery -- owen arthur is certainly not indigenous to the island, so the original fault precedes him and his taintedness is the consequence of the original taintedness of slavery.

anyone have any thoughts about why owen arthur has such an anglo name?

i also find it interesting that there is no violence, but instead great sexual enjoyment and love, between owen arthur and eeona. but then this very love messed eeona up for the rest of her life and doesn't let her develop emotional attachments of her own.

just thinking out loud here, testing ideas...


message 40: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Ooh, I got busy there with the little one....anyone have any more to add about Owen and Eeona it how mythology plays into it? You know the first two or three times in the book where the incestuousness nature of the relationship was mentioned I read through it as if it wasn't there. I guess I was totally unprepared for it, couldn't believe the author would go there and also, again, the casualness with how she approached it. It all was just so repulsive to me. Then to make matters worse, Mama tells Eeona before she dies, "You have a brother. Your father's outside child. Esau McKenzie. Same age as Anette. Please. Watch out for Esau and Anette." Eeona is beside herself that her father had another woman or relations with another woman and that woman not being her. Really? It seems like everything she is, everything she does, every move she makes is directly related to that elicit love affair; Love affair, It makes me want to shower just saying it.

What do you think of Rebekah McKenzie and her sons?


message 41: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
I can't quite get enough of the sister dynamics with Anette and Eeona. Rebecca earlier mentioned the dialect with Anette and of course that is the contrast with Eeona. It really annoyed me for a large part of this section because it didn't appear to be just a native patois but a lack of language skills. It was rather rough reading for awhile there. But, Anette seemed the more authentic of the two to me. Not because of the language issue but her story just seemed more interesting. I was looking forward to reading her story much more than her sisters especially as it related to Jacob/Esau.


message 42: by jo (last edited Feb 09, 2015 08:24AM) (new)

jo | 1031 comments what i always do in books, i ask myself, why did the author choose to have it this way? so, with the love story between young eeona and her father, i ask myself, why did the writer choose to have the book start this way? it could have started any other way! and how about the little girl in the experiment, whom bradshaw stands up for? and what about the darn gray pubic hair? at first it is gray, then it becomes sort of diamond like. but gray is gray, and it cannot but make us think of age. yanique could have chosen any other color, emerald green, rudy red, golden, sapphire blue. clearly she put a lot of thought in this book (did one of you say that it took her 10 years to write it?) so no choice is really casual. so this is where i go, when i read books. i ask myself why the author chose to do things this way.

in my comments above i tried to offer some answers, but of course i'm groping in the dark.


message 43: by ColumbusReads (last edited Feb 09, 2015 09:00AM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
jo wrote: "what i always do in books, i ask myself, why did the author choose to have it this way? so, with the love story between young eeona and her father, i ask myself, why did the writer choose to have t..."

Well I wondered also about the gray/golden pubic hair references because she constantly brought it up. Where was she going with this? It's definitely not a casual mention because she's so meticulous about everything else. Is she making a more grandiose or feminist statement about this. Then I'm not giving too much away by saying it's not limited to the confines of this section, but, not necessarily a large storyline either. Glad you brought that up.


message 44: by George (new)

George | 763 comments well, she could hardly pick red, that was Anette's particular color and her sign. Yes, it is strange, but isn't that the point?

It's some sort of sign of connection or touched by to the old gods or the original African inhabitants, the Duene, who are not exactly human. The inhabitants of the island of Anegada, whose decendents live there still. The men are of the sea and the women of the land and whose feet are backwards, making them impossible to track. Eeona and Anette and their mother are direct decendents of these mythical Duene.

Anyway, the color of her pubic hair is not simply grey, or I think the author would have said so, it's silver, diamond like, something more peculiar, much more distinctive than mere gray. a sign of distinction that mere grey could never be. Jo described these things as a kind of curse, but I don't think it is intended to be seen that way, although being touched by the gods can be a kind of curse.

so, why silver and why red? I can't say I know exactly what the colors are intended to mean, I didn't seen any hints in the book, anyway.


message 45: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Well, actually, it is mentioned as being distinctly "gray" in chapter 4 - about 4 or 5 mentions in fact.


message 46: by George (new)

George | 763 comments Columbus wrote: "Well, actually, it is mentioned as being distinctly "gray" in chapter 4 - about 4 or 5 mentions in fact."

ah well.


message 47: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments yeah, if i remember correctly the author seems to start off with gray but then elevate the color to silver and diamonds. as i said, if i had to interpret, i'd say an old soul.


message 48: by Ardene (last edited Feb 10, 2015 01:56PM) (new)

Ardene (booksnpeaches) | 56 comments I don't have a clue about the grey/silver pubic hair.

I like Annette more than Eeona at this point because she seems more real/down-to-earth than Eeona; it seems like Eeona has more book learning from the colonial/European side and Annette is more in touch with the island culture.

George, post 44 the Duene, who are not exactly human. The inhabitants of the island of Anegada, whose decendents live there still. The men are of the sea and the women of the land and whose feet are backwards, making them impossible to track. Eeona and Anette and their mother are direct decendents of these mythical Duene.

I have to look again tonight to see what the Captain's ancestry is now.

I am puzzled by the Jacob Esau name, because if my recollection is correct, Jacob & Esau were twin brothers (Esau the first born, who was tricked by his mother [Rebekah] & Jacob into trading his father's [Isaac's] blessing away to Jacob). Here is a link to a Wikipedia article.

I haven't gotten to the part where Eeona finds out about her father's/lover's affair with Rebekah. Wonder how this dynamic influences Eeona & her mother's relationship? Does her mother know about the relations between Owen & Eeona? Is Eeona a way of naming the eldest daughter after Owen? (The last two syllables of Eeona, to me, sounds a bit like Owen.)


message 49: by ColumbusReads (last edited Feb 11, 2015 09:59AM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
Ardene wrote: "I don't have a clue about the grey/silver pubic hair.

I like Annette more than Eeona at this point because she seems more real/down-to-earth than Eeona; it seems like Eeona has more book learning ..."


I agree, Ardene. The author in contrasting the two sisters so clearly also made the younger sister, Anette's story more readable and her more appealing and likable - at least I feel. I wonder if that was the intent or not.

Also, the beginning of the book only mentions "the people who had come together to make Owen Bradshaw could be traced back to West Africans forced to the island as slaves...Back to European men who were kicked...Back to Asians who came as servants....and to Caribs who sat quietly making baskets in the countryside...." Hmmm, don't see anything directly.


message 50: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3833 comments Mod
We're now in the second section of the book which covers chaps 29-81. Any early thoughts on this?


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