The New York Times has just reviewed Trinidadian novelist Elizabeth Nunez’s new novel Anna In-Between, a beautifully-rendered exploration of a young woman’s return to her native Trinidad to visit her ailing parents. The novel, which I had the pleasure of listening to Nunez reading from during her recent visit to Vassar College, was inspired by the author’s memories of her parents’ marriage. Here are some excerpts from the review. Links to the full review and to the first chapter of the novel can be found below.
The title of her latest novel suggests a sit-com, or the upbeat identity lit marketed to teenagers. But Elizabeth Nunez layers “Anna In-Between,” a psychologically and emotionally astute family portrait, with dark themes like racism, cancer and the bittersweet longing of the immigrant. Foremost, she explores the late innings of a successful marriage, in which husband and wife cling together in the shadow of mortality.
. . .
The plot is as languorous as the Sinclairs’ retirement, with Nunez, whose previous novels include “Bruised Hibiscus” and “Prospero’s Daughter,” taking detours into the island’s social history and Anna’s multiethnic ancestry. Africans, Asians and Europeans have mixed, but subtle resentments and snobberies endure. The East Indians are perceived by some as “clannish,” more willing than blacks to sacrifice to send a family member to college. The Hindus and Muslims who arrived as indentured workers have thrived and are “competing with each other in a show of religious fervor,” building ghastly shrines on their suburban lots.
Sophisticated Anna seems at first to have outgrown both the postage-stamp geography of the place and her parents’ values. But she ultimately gives in to the rhythms and small decencies of her tropical birthplace.
Her parents are revealed to her in all their complexity and provide her with a model for happiness.
The full review can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/books/review/Finnerty-t.html
The Times has also published an excerpt of the novel, which can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/books/04anna_excerpt.html?_r=1&ref=review