cover image Pleasantview


Celeste Mohammed. Ig, $16.95 trade paper (230p) ISBN 978-1-63246-202-2

Mohammed’s engaging debut novel in stories reveals the intimate connections of the ethnically and linguistically diverse citizens of a fictional town in Trinidad and Tobago. Themes of passion, desperation, and tragedy are established in the prologue, a story of Consuela and Sunil’s ill-fated love, and of the conniving Mr. Jagroop, a mobster-type figure who sexually exploits Consuela and appears in other stories as a “businessman.” In “White Envelope,” Gail attempts to rationalize the predatory Mr. H’s sexual harassment and rape of her as a chance at a better life, remembering the words of her mother: “Don’t be stupid like me and waste your life on no Pleasantview man.” In “Six Months,” Luther works a temporary job in the U.S. into an extended stay through some tough choices and deception. As the stories thread together, it becomes increasingly clear how each character’s actions create reverberating consequences across Pleasantview. (In “Santimanitay,” for instance, a celebratory crowd forms after Mr. H is shot to death.) Mohammed convincingly showcases the importance of familial and community relationships and how they can make or break lives when money is hard to come by. A liberal use of Trinidad Creole adds energy and color to the goings-on. Throughout, the stories barrel from charm to tragedy and back again, making for a memorable and moving immersion. (May)