“Limbo, Limbo Like Me”: Robyn Stephenson on Esther Figueroa


Robyn Stephenson recently published (in Susumba) a short profile of independent filmmaker Esther Figueroa and her book Limbo. Here are just a few excerpts with a link to the full piece below:

The short, silver-haired, impish lady steps into the bookshop. She has an air of adventure about her – maybe it’s the cargo pants and wind-tousled hair. When she removes her sunglasses to greet me her eyes sparkle with the same adventurous glow. This is Esther Figueroa, independent filmmaker and writer of the critically acclaimed Limbo, a novel about Jamaica, published in June 2014 by Arcade Publishing.

Figueroa is probably best known for the documentaries Cockpit Country: Voices from Jamaica’s Heart and Jamaica for Sale. She is an outspoken and prolific filmmaker turned environmental activist, an avid linguist, and a dedicated educator who can now add published author to the many hats she wears.

But Figueroa is no stranger to the literary world. [. . .] Over the years she graduated from writing “foolishness” to writing documentaries and novels. During her twenty-year stay in Hawaii she penned the as yet unpublished Holes in the Heart, a novel about a group of friends who come together for their high school reunion in Hawaii.

Limbo is her first published fiction title, for which Figueroa decries any lofty aspirations. “I wasn’t aiming at some great literary thing. I wanted it to be accessible, to be fun, to be entertaining, to have somebody want to read it.”

Judging by the response Limbo received, she has succeeded. “[T]he evocation of the Jamaican landscape is a magnificent achievement,” says the esteemed George Lamming of Limbo.

Diana McCaulay, author, and founder of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), said. “I have never read anything like Limbo coming out of the Caribbean – a satire, with many elements of popular fiction but also employing a layered literary approach with a serious message.”

The novel starts with epigraphs from the poem Limbo by Kamau Braithwaite and Dante Aligheri’s religious epic The Divine Comedy, a nod to Esther’s Catholic roots. From this literary launch-pad, the reader is treated to an exploration of the dark underbelly of geopolitical development through the eyes of wild-child environmentalist Flora Smith.

[. . .] “Being an environmentalist in Jamaica is a very difficult thing,” she continues, “so you have to find some humour or relief. Writing Limbo was cathartic because I came up with solutions that of course would never happen, but which could happen, so why not?” [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.susumba.com/books/interviews/limbo-limbo-me

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