Recipient of the 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Foundation Award
A major debut from an award-winning writer—an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands.
In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.
Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.
For her debut novel, Yanique (author of the story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony) has written an epic multigenerational tale set in the U.S. Virgin Islands that traces the ambivalent history of its inhabitants during the course of the 20th century. The story follows two sisters whose genteel prospects are shattered after the sudden death of their father, Owen Arthur Bradshaw, a descendent of West African slaves and owner of a cargo ship. Eeona, the older of the two, is a famous beauty who terrifies men with her radiance and high-caste pretensions, while her younger sister, Anette, is sensuous and passionate, holding on to her local dialect and identity. Ever recalling memories of her father, Eeona struggles to escape St. Thomas and achieve a measure of freedom. Anette, meanwhile, falls desperately in love with Jacob, who, unbeknownst to her, is actually her half-brother. The novel shows how global conflicts, including World War II, and America's legacy of racism shape the lives of Jacob and other islanders. As Anette becomes a mother and Eeona becomes a spectral embodiment of the islands' mystery, American tourism gradually upends the local economy and deprives the natives of land, beaches, and freedom. Amid the devastation of hurricanes and exploitation by wealthy American entrepreneurs, the sisters struggle to understand their history, their place in the modern world, and the fatal attraction of the islands' magical beauty. Through the voices and lives of its native people, Yanique offers an affecting narrative of the Virgin Islands that pulses with life, vitality, and a haunting evocation of place.
Family Attorney/ Author
Love the transportation to the Caribbean; the historical fiction aspect caught up w America and race issues; the characters who I feel like I know and want to hear more about even as the book was ending; the symbolism in the words drown and drowning - physically, emotionally, the power of the sea ; the spiritual and mysticism of cultures, women and life and finally the use of literary devices taking the reader to the future and the past sometimes at the same time.