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A Tall History of Sugar : A Novel.
2019
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Summary

"An epic tale of two soulmates: Moshe Fisher, born with mismatched eyes and pale skin that bruises easily, and Arrienne Christie, 'her skin even at birth the color of the wettest molasses, with a purple tinge under the surface.' Arrienne is his protector at school--and later his lover--but how they eventually wind up together is part of this unconventionally crafted story that spans decades, from the years before Jamaica's independence to the 2010s. Forbes' sentences are the stars here; it's a book that rewards slow, careful reading."
-- BuzzFeed , included in BuzzFeed 's Fall 2019 Preview

"Forbes lets her novel sing with all the languages of Jamaica and Britain. She has an uncanny knack for patois and dialect, including Jamaican English, the Queen's English, and everything in between. In some ways this book tells a story of a love too deep to become romantic. In other ways it's a novel of colonialism and its tragic aftermath of racism and economic despair. But most of all, the book is a journey. The characters so vivid, their depictions so intimate, that the skin of the pages themselves almost pulse beneath the reader's fingers. A powerful journey into the souls of two lovers, two countries, and the people caught in the wakes of empires."
-- Kirkus Reviews , Starred review, selected for the 2019 Fall Preview (Adult Fiction)

"Forbes' novel, rich in metaphors and biblical and fairy-tale allusions, explores the cyclical nature of birth and death, and the overwhelming and terrifying power of love. It is also a forceful critique of colonialism...Born to this complicated heritage, Moshe and Arrienne discover their voices in art and social protest as Jamaica grapples with independence and identity. A fascinating post-colonial blend of romance, social history, and myth."
-- Booklist , Starred review

"In her immersive modern fairy tale, Forbes unspools an unlikely love story as well as a haunting, hypnotic piece of postcolonial Jamaican history...Arrienne's recount moves in hopscotch fashion, but it's driven forward by her enchanting voice, to which Forbes brings an electric lyricism. Her dialogue beautifully captures the lilt and variety of Jamaican patois...Forbes's ambitious, fantastic tale will appeal to fans of multigenerational sagas."
-- Publishers Weekly , Starred review

A Tall History of Sugar tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man who was "born without skin," so that no one is able to tell what race he belongs to; and Arrienne Christie, his quixotic soul mate who makes it her duty in life to protect Moshe from the social and emotional consequences of his strange appearance.

The narrative begins with Moshe's birth in the late 1950s, four years before Jamaica's independence from colonial rule, and ends in the era of what Forbes calls "the fall of empire," the era of Brexit and Donald Trump. The historical trajectory layers but never overwhelms the scintillating love story as the pair fight to establish their own view of loving, against the moral force of the colonial "plantation" and its legacies that continue to affect their lives and the lives of those around them.

Written in lyrical, luminous prose that spans the range of Jamaican Englishes, this remarkable story follows the couple's mysterious love affair from childhood to adulthood, from the haunted environs of rural Jamaica to the city of Kingston, and then to England--another haunted locale in Forbes's rendition.

Following on the footsteps of Marlon James's debut novel, John Crow's Devil , which Akashic Books published in 2005, we are delighted to introduce another lion of Jamaican literature with the publication of A Tall History of Sugar .

Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
Rachel, a childless Jamaican fisherman's wife, discovers a baby in a basket, wrapped in swaddling clothes, whom she names Moshe. Milky white with African features, hair blonde and straight in front and black and kinky in back, Moshe eventually forms a mysterious bond with dark-skinned Arrienne Christie, the princess of a prominent family cursed with a fiery birthmark on their bottoms which become inflamed during the sugar cane harvest. The two grow up along with their country as Jamaica struggles toward independence in 1962. Forbes' novel, rich in metaphors and biblical and fairy-tale allusions, explores the cyclical nature of birth and death, and the overwhelming and terrifying power of love. It is also a forceful critique of colonialism, peopled with white Britons lamenting the lost pearl of the Empire as Jamaicans are literally poisoned by cane sugar, its principal export. This, too, makes the point: as the fields are burned clear of underbrush, the black soot floats through windows and doorways, soiling chenille bedspreads and the pristine white of lace doilies artfully strewn on tables. Born to this complicated heritage, Moshe and Arrienne discover their voices in art and social protest as Jamaica grapples with independence and identity. A fascinating post-colonial blend of romance, social history, and myth.--Lesley Williams Copyright 2010 Booklist
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