October 1, 2008

Two New Books from Peepal Tree Press

Curdella ForbesCrossing the space between novel and short fiction, A Permanent Freedom weaves nine individual stories about love, sex, death, and migration into a single compelling narrative that seizes our imagination with the profound courage, integrity and folly of which the human spirit is capable. Each story surrounds migrant or migrating characters seeking to negotiate life on margins, within silences, in in-between spaces. Through the memory or immediate experience of sexual encounters or love that drives or haunts their journeys, these characters are taken out of the safe places of conventional behaviour and belief, to the farthest reaches of themselves, both the heart of darkness and the quest for a larger meaning. In almost all cases the encounter involves a confrontation with death and the spiritual.

In the title story, a man, his gay lover and his wife are drawn into a ‘strange’ alliance as they struggle to deal with his impending death from AIDS. ‘Say’ and ‘Nocturne in Blue’ recount the story of a rape and its retribution from the point of view of the rapist, his victim, and her healer, in a competition of narratives leading to a shocking dénouement. In ‘For Ishmael’ the lines in the palms of a man’s hands keep changing without explanation, as he becomes embroiled in the lives and stories of others. Characters cross over into each other’s stories in uncanny networks of meeting orchestrated by a dark angel who also bears witness to these tales and the nature of stories as a form of haunting.

Curdella Forbes is Jamaican. She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of English at Howard University.


David DabydeenDrama critic Lance Yardley is only 30 but is already a seedy wreck of a man, spending his nights in the back streets of Coventry looking for prostitutes. A working-class boy brought up in a broken home on a council estate, he has sought escape in literature and through his marriage to an actress, the great-granddaughter of a 19th-century Englishman who made his fortune from the sugar plantations in Guyana.

At first Elizabeth attracts Yardley, but their differences of class exacerbate the mutual hatred that grows between them. Later he is drawn to a mysterious Indian girl, Rohini. She seems shy, but sells her body to customers when her boss goes out of town. When she dies suddenly, the victim of a strange and violent assassin, Yardley decides to decamp abroad for a while. He goes to Guyana, not least because he wants to learn more about an Irish priest who as an old man has been a priest in Coventry, but as a young man had worked as a missionary in Guyana. The priest’s fragmented journals seem to offer Yardley some possible answers to his own spiritual malaise, but the Guyana he discovers provokes more questions than answers.

David Dabydeen was born in Guyana. He has published six acclaimed novels and three collections of poetry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor of Literary Studies at the University of Warwick.



FSJL said...

Curdella is also a 'graduate' of the Gleaner, having worked there in the early 80s.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Give thanks for adding to the bio, Fragano!