Item description for A Simple Distance by K. E. Silva...
When Jean Sousa's uncle, a high-ranking politician on the fictional Caribbean -island of Baobique, is diagnosed with brain cancer, Jean is forced to reconcile difficult family relationships and her place among them.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.6" Weight: 0.35 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2006
Publisher Akashic Books
ISBN 1933354119 ISBN13 9781933354118
Reviews - What do customers think about A Simple Distance?
Under the Mosquito Netting Oct 19, 2006
"IN Baobique, when you look to the mountains, all you see are trees, tall and arching in the wind, their uppermost fronds green and, perhaps, slick with rain; at night, maybe two or three houses with electric lights, unless you are down south in the capitol." Jean, a US attorney based in the Bay Area, has been chary of visiting her West Indian family for many years, but as she points out, "crisis is never convenient," and finally, after an absence of many years, she returns to the magical island of Baobique, a contested site of lush beauty, closeknit family groupings, and yet a vein of homophobia which had exiled her and her lover, Susan, many years before the main action of the book takes place.
Silva's first novel brings Baobique to life in all of its puzzling contradictions, and under the aromatic insularity of its touch, our heroine shakes off some of her US blues and begins to enter more fully into an integrated existence than she has since childhood. Jean's mother and father took her to a nearly all white Chicago suburb, hoping for a better life, and then one day her mother returned to help her family and to tend to the Manderley-like family house, Godwyn, now decrepit and falling victim to fast-growing tropical undergrowth. And then finally it is the daughter's turn to visit the house--a house haunted by the spirits of family dead and alive, and a history mired in a colonial past never far from racism.
Jean's love for another woman sets her free emotionally from some of the family tangles, but her pride is also damaged by the hatred she feels. Anyone who has ever kept a secret from his or her family will relate to our narrator's plight, and so will anyone who has ever longed to go back to an island. This is Silva's first novel, though you might not guess it from the finely structured storytelling, spanning multiple times and places, and constantly shifting back and forth, like beads on an abacus, through the events of a family tree flung far by diaspora and postcolonial nomadism.
She is especially good at bringing nature alive, fresh and new and wet, as city girl Jean now confronts the impossibly verdant land of her birth. And she's great at family: Jean's Caribbean relatives are a lively, sometimes raucous bunch with great personalities--and yet you can see why they'd be incredibly annoying en masse! The house, Godwyn, carved out of its patch of jungle, shimmers in the background of A SIMPLE DISTANCE like a half-ruined shrine. You will be anxious to find out what happens on Jean's voyage, and on the way you'll discover many lovely and variant truths about what it's like to be human. Once we're divided, can we ever be made whole?