Curdella Forbes. Peepal Tree (IPG, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (179p) ISBN 978-1-84523-200-9
Jamaican author Forbes (Songs of Silence) turns on the bitterness, remorse, and love that the enormous Pointy-Morris family is left with after the death of eldest son, Pete, who had been estranged for years. Pete’s mother and a number of his siblings can’t make peace with the circumstances leading to his death. To leave an explanation for generations to come, four sisters create a book about Pete as a record of “the family and its scars.” The memories and contentions of the prophetic Evangeline, fierce and grounded Cynthia, inventive writer Micheline, and wry Beatrice draw a portrait of a doomed man. The sisters struggle with Pete’s obsessive love for their cousin and his strange loss of equilibrium after her marriage, each sister expressing resentment and guilt over different aspects of his life. Set in the near future, Forbes’s characters inhabit a dystopian world where books are housed in museums and an atoll in Papua New Guinea may be the only place left with clean air. This external chaos mirrors the despair and uncertainty of the family; a mishmash of emotions is relayed in Jamaican Creole and standard English. The uncertainty unfortunately bleeds into the structure of this hectic novel with sci-fi overtones, creating a blurry book that never comes together. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
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