cover image Now Lila Knows

Now Lila Knows

Elizabeth Nunez. Akashic, $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-63614-024-7

Nunez (Even in Paradise) returns with an uneven mix of romance and commentary on racial injustice. Lila Bonnard, an Oxford-educated professor from the Caribbean island of St. Marie, is hired to teach at Mayfield College in Vermont. Her fiancé, Robert, discourages her from taking the job, while her grandmother (and de facto parent) opposes her engagement. On Lila’s first day in Mayfield, she witnesses the police shooting of an unarmed Black professor. Lila deals with pressure from her Black colleagues to report what she saw to the police, after hesitating over fear of reprisal since she’s an immigrant. She also grapples with unwilling students, hostile white colleagues, and a widening rift with Robert. Lila grows close to handsome white civil rights lawyer Clive, and learns from him about the opioid epidemic’s local impact. The racial politics of a small town in Vermont, as seen through Lila’s eyes, provides an illuminating counterplay between Caribbean and American Blackness, particularly as Lila reflects on the Shakespeare character of Caliban through a post-colonial lens, but too often the characters play too closely to type. It has its moments, but it doesn’t quite hang together. Agent: Malaika Adero, Adero’s Literary Tribe, LLC. (June)