How to Escape from a Leper Colony A Novella and Stories


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Graywolf Press


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155597550X

9781555975500

240 Pages

$16.00

CAD18.50

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Set mostly in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the stories in this nuanced debut are lyrical, lush, and haunting. The inhabitants of an island walk into the sea. A man passes a jail cell's window, shouldering a wooden cross. And in the international shop of coffins, a story repeats itself, pointing toward an inevitable tragedy. Part oral history, part postcolonial narrative, How to Escape from a Leper Colony is ultimately a loving portrait of a wholly unique place.

REVIEWS

Praise for How to Escape from a Leper Colony

“With turns to the wild, clever, and magical that seem at once fantastic and inevitable, Tiphanie Yanique has crafted a beautiful collection of short and not-so-short fiction. This is an exciting new voice.”—Percival Everett
 
“Let us hail this new literary voice, vibrant, humorous, original and powerful. These stories introduce us to a new world free of the old images and too familiar clichés of the Caribbean.”—Maryse Condé
 
"In this Widest of Sargasso Seas, Tiphanie Yanique gives us the pan-Caribbean, from the old lepers' colony on Chacachacare, off the coast of Trinidad, to St. John, Accra, and London. It's an astonishing debut collection—as brutal, sexual, magical, and seductively disturbing as if Jean Rhy had written it today."—Robert Antoni
 
"How to Escape from a Leper Colony is fiction of the first rank. Tiphanie Yanique explores the ferociously complex terrain of her native Caribbean to show what it means to live in a world where accidents of culture, country, history, race, and place figure so bewilderingly in, as the author puts it, 'the divine risks of love.'"—Ben Fountain
 
"This splendid debut collection reveals a storyteller of multiple gifts and ample heart. Yanique's writing is very fine, her characters are authentic and memorable, and her vision is deeply humane."—Sigrid Nunez
 
"Tiphanie Yanique has written powerful stories, in luminous prose, that reveal a Caribbean beyond tourist brochures, stories that tell of human triumphs and failures. A wonderful read."—Elizabeth Nunez, author of Anna In-Between

"These are fiercely original, poetic, and bold stories from a writer who is a force to be reckoned with. I loved every minute of this book and was in awe of nearly every paragraph."—Cristina Henriquez, author of The World in Half

"In these powerful, poetic stories set in landscapes real and imagined, Tiphanie Yanique explores beautifully race, family, and the complicated movements of the heart."—Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of Sister of My Heart and The Palace of Illusions

"Tiphanie Yanique has a gift for writing about physical displacement and the longing for connection that ensues. The unique stories in How to Escape from a Leper Colony meditate on confused expressions of love and spirituality in fresh and surprising ways."—Emily Raboteau

"Tiphanie Yanique is a writer to watch. Although How to Escape from a Leper Colony is her debut, she writes with the wisdom and confidence of an old soul. The title story alone is worth the price of admission, but each of these stories contained in this gorgeous collection are clear-eyed, honest while still zinging with emotion. Tiphanie Yanique is blessed with an electric imagination, an expansive heart, and an unflinching gaze. I can't wait to see what she does next."—Tayari Jones

"In How to Escape from a Leper Colony, Tiphanie Yanique takes as her subject the outsider, the immigrant, the uprooted. a boy from Ghana is transplanted to Brixton, trading his palm-wine-drinking friends in Accra for new football-playing mates. A Gambian priest finds friendship in a coffin shop in the Caribbean; a one-time Pentecostal leaves her birthplace and dons a burka in an effort to win back her Muslim husband. The stories of these men and women, and the extraordinary grace and sympathy with which they're told, serve as urgent, vivid reminders in this age of displacement and migration, of how powerfullyheart and urgently each human herat aches for its home."—Kathleen Cambor

"Anyone who has ever been an outcast will recognize himself or herself in these short stories by Yanique, which center mostly on the island of St. Thomas. The heartache of each character is vivid, but what is a real triumph here is the simple, eloquent prose, which doesn't work too hard to achieve its purpose. While the title story is the best, others are still excellent, and they all describe people who are struggling between two worlds—not just the case of being marginalized by race, culture, or religion but the simple feeling of always being an outsider. Yanique portrays this position well, over and over, throughout the book. A beautiful and insightful read, this will be of interest not only to academic libraries but also to all drawn to the best contemporary American and Caribbean fiction."—Shalini Miskelly, Highline Community College Library, Des Moines, Washington, Library Journal

"The effects of colonialism throb in Yanique’s vivid debut collection. The chilling title story is set in 1939, when the Trinidadian island of Chacachacare was still used as a leper colony; the narrator, a 14-year-old orphan with leprosy, befriends a curious boy her age, Lazaro, whose mother was murdered there when he was a baby, and whose troubled relationship with the nuns leads him to a terrible retribution. 'The Bridge Stories' are elucidating snapshots of islanders struggling to carve out lives for themselves on St. Thomas and elsewhere amid an exploitative tourist economy. Yanique frequently dips into rich, fanciful vernacular, such as in 'Street Man,' a beautiful, sad glimpse at a doomed love affair between a college student and a St. Croix local. In the affecting novella, 'International Shop of Coffins,' Yanique depicts characters of mixed African/Creole/Indian descent torn between the white and island worlds in all their complexity and conflictedness. A smattering of dark humor leavens the tense narratives as Yanique penetrates the perils and pleasures of lives lived outside resort walls."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Tihpanie Yanique is from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. An assistant professor at Drew University, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and St. Thomas with her partner, Moses Djeli.

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BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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  • Tihpanie Yanique is from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. An assistant professor at Drew University, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and St. Thomas with her husband, the photographer and teacher Moses Djeli.
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