Book Review: Land of Love and Drowning

Author: Tiphanie Yanique
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Fiction

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique is a masterpiece. I do not say this lightly. It is now part of my personal canon.

Land of Love and Drowning is a complex story with lots of interwoven pieces. It follows the lineage of Antoinette, a woman from Anegada—literally the land of drowning, deserts her lobster fisherman intended for Arthur Owen, a ship captain. The two have two daughters, Eeona and Anette, and Owen Arthur has a son Jacob Esau by another woman. The lines between familial love and romantic love are blurred and crossed in this book, and it make for a rich, out-of-the-box, beautiful narrative. The Caribbean’s history comes alive in the text, even in moments when the story doesn’t follow real life events exactly as they happened.

The book will swallow you, but you will not drown if you know how to swim. The imagery, the language, all mermaid beautiful. The language was my favorite. The prose was poetic, ebbing and flowing like the sea at crescent moon. The whole story was a poem. Tiphanie Yanique is a masterful storyteller skilled at maintaining tension between characters, settings, and histories. She moves so smoothly, almost like the sea itself during crescent moon. She shows the reader the future in a narrative grounded in the present. She tells you what is going to happen, but doesn’t give anything away. It’s a marvelous balancing act, and it makes it seem as if we’re living in past, present, and future all at once, which is kind of what it’s like when I’m reading Caribbean stories.

All the good feels I ever get from reading a book were amplified with this one. This is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2017. I can’t wait to pick up more books by Tiphanie Yanique.

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