cover image In Another Place, Not Here

In Another Place, Not Here

Dionne Brand. Grove/Atlantic, $24 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1622-2

Two worlds collide in this intense, sensuous first novel from a filmmaker, poet and essayist who was born in Trinidad and now lives in Canada. Both of the worlds are familiar to Caribbean-Americans: the verdant lushness of the islands, and the large but claustrophobic North American cities that beckon and ultimately disillusion the immigrants who try to make new homes in them. The narrator of the first part of the novel, Elizete, ekes out a miserable existence as a sugarcane cutter on the island of Trinidad. Little has changed for these laborers since the harsh days of sugar plantations. When Verlia, a cosmopolitan Marxist, returns to the island to organize the field hands and spread the word of her Black Power Movement, she captivates Elizete's imagination--and her heart. As the two women become lovers, Elizete's passion for the natural world complements Verlia's vocation as an activist. Verlia narrates the second part of the novel, which chronicles the painful years she endured as an immigrant in Toronto. Brand's faithfulness to island dialect sometimes distracts from the sensuous descriptions and simple politics of her tale. But she evokes the privations of island life and captures the loneliness and constant fear of deportation that define the islanders' immigrant experience; the assimilation of blacks into white culture and the consequent fear of losing their core identities; the camaraderie among the socialist ""sisters and brothers."" In her hands, the melding of Elizete's dreams and Verlia's fierce pragmatism achieve a powerful resonance. Foreign rights: Women's Press; performance rights: Bukowski Agency. (Oct.)