Linette Rabsatt recently reviewed Tiphanie Yanique’s 2007 chap book The Saving Work (Kore Press). Yanique is a young fiction writer and poet from St. Thomas, in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). She is also the author of How to Escape from a Leper Colony: A Novella and Stories [see previous post New Book: Tiphanie Yanique’s How to Escape from a Leper Colony.] Her latest tells the story of the life of two families in the Virgin Islands. Linette Rabsatt writes:
I first met her at an open mic in 2007 held by the Rock Collective in St. Thomas, USVI where she shared very inspiring poetry. She is currently an assistant professor who teaches creative writing courses at Drew University. Yanique has won several prestigious awards for her writing including the 2007 Kore Press Short Fiction Award, the Boston Review Fiction Prize in 2007 and the Pushcart Prize in 2007. She was also recently listed in The National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” Fiction, 2010. [. . .]
The Saving Work Tells a Virgin Islands’ Story: In six short chapters, The Saving Work tells the story of two families in St. Thomas, USVI. The story starts “A church is burning down.” The two women who witness the burning church are both white American women, Diedre Thompson and Violet de Flaubert. They migrated to St. Thomas and married local black men and became a part of the community, especially in the church. Unfortunately, both women could not get along and as the story continues as the writer discusses a friendship between Diedre’s son, Thomas and Violet’s daughter, Jasmine.
[. . .] Religion stands as an underlying theme of The Saving Work. With both Diedre and Violet being heavily involved in the church, they raised their children to have strong faith in religion. This faith impacts the decisions that all the characters make in the story – the sexual choices, marriage and passing judgment. Of course the reminder of the burning church also falls within the religious theme.
[. . .] As the story continues, the relationship between Thomas and Jasmine becomes complicated and the story gets more intense. As the writer delves into the complexities of the de Flaubert and Thompson families, the images of the burning church is replayed. The Saving Work speaks of love, shame, the want of prestige and of the way families communicate.
For more on the author, see http://www.tiphanieyanique.com/index.html
See Kore Press catalogue at http://www.korepress.org/catalog5.htm