cover image A Tall History of Sugar

A Tall History of Sugar

Curdella Forbes. Akashic, $28.95 (372p) ISBN 978-1-61775-751-8

In her immersive modern fairy tale, Forbes (A Permanent Freedom) unspools an unlikely love story as well as a haunting, hypnotic piece of postcolonial Jamaican history. A strange newborn baby is found in a basket in 1958 and adopted. Ghostly pale and fragile, with hair that is part blond, part black, Moshe Fisher is deemed an outsider by his peers until, on his first day of elementary school, he meets Arrienne Christie, a slightly older girl who shares his intellectual aptitude and aversion to speech. Arrienne is also the novel’s narrator, interjecting and opining with verve as she and Moshe come of age—she a burgeoning political mind, he a talented visual artist. Their slow-burning love story is tested when Moshe’s desire to learn more about his biological father takes him to Britain. Arrienne’s recount moves in hopscotch fashion, but it’s driven forward by her enchanting voice, to which Forbes brings an electric lyricism. Her dialogue beautifully captures the lilt and variety of Jamaican patois: “If yu lef outa dis house tonight, don’t come back, stay by yu fadda.” Forbes’s ambitious, fantastic tale will appeal to fans of multigenerational sagas . [em](Oct.) [/em]