cover image Beyond the Limbo Silence

Beyond the Limbo Silence

Elizabeth Nunez. Seal Press (CA), $24 (320pp) ISBN 978-1-58005-017-3

Cultures collide, and reality and mysticism exist side by side in this highly charged, lyrical account of a young woman's political awakening by the Trinidad-born author of When Rocks Dance. When scholarship winner Sara Edgehill forsakes her native Trinidad for a Catholic women's college in Oshkosh, Wis., that has sought out ""primitive people with raw talent,"" the civil rights struggle is at its peak. Haunted by the family legend of a great-grandmother who fell in love with a voodoo priest and went mad, emotionally frail Sara sees herself as vulnerable to mental illness. At school, the other two scholarship students--cheerful Angela Baboolalasingh, an Indian from British Guyana, and morose Courtney Adams from St. Lucia--befriend her, but Sara soon feels isolated from the rest of the students, who are white and well-heeled. Sara's loneliness fades when she meets a handsome black law student named Sam Maxwell. He and Sara become lovers shortly before he decides to go to Mississippi as a disciple of Malcom X. History intrudes further when three of his co-workers disappear (the victims are the real-life Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney) and are feared murdered. Intrigued by Courtney's practice of obeah, her ancestral voodon tradition that uses sorcery and magic ritual, Sara agrees to enter a trance state in an attempt to find the bodies of the missing men. Nunez documents Sara's first year in the States with its heartbreaks and feelings of alienation, offering a convincing portrait of an earnest young woman struggling to reconcile her newly acquired political conscience with West Indies mysticism. (Nov.)