Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch (Peepal Tree Press) will be available in April 2020. Here are excerpts from Glenville Ashby’s review “A love story lays bare the soul of humanity” (Kaieteur News). [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for sharing this review.]
The Mermaid of Black Conch is an enthralling dialogue between lovers, a dialogue estranged from all conventionality. A communication between two hearts, literally. No words, just a silence that speaks to the protean character of language. Twin flames they are, their heartbeat in tandem. It is a love affair unhinged by a strange force of nature, unhinged, but very much entombed with uncharted emotions.
There is a defining paradox to Monique Roffey’s work that is unveiled by her well-crafted characters: David Baptiste, Miss Rain, Reggie, and the Claysons, to name a handful.
Roffey, with deciduous timing intertwines prose with verse, and the present with the past, creating a well-weaved literary tapestry in the process. At the outset, David Baptiste recalls capturing the heart of a mermaid, a most unlikely catch. His encounter mystifies. [. . .] “I saw that part of this creature from my boat. Yards and yards of musty silver. It gave she a look of power, like she grow out of the tail itself. When I see her first, I reckon she come from some half-space in God’s great order, like she was from a time when all creatures were getting designed.”
The author adds to the intrigue: “The music brought her to him, not the engine sound…It was the magic that music makes, the song that lives within every creature on earth, including mermaids…She was irresistibly drawn up to the surface, real slow and real interested. That morning David played her soft hymns he’d learnt as a boy, praising God. He sang holy songs for her, songs that brought tears to his eyes.”
Amid passion, unbridled selflessness and the enviable attribute of loving and caring beyond comprehension, there is naked greed and a reckless cupidity portrayed by Thomas Clayson, a trenchant, cold figure bent on selling the mermaid Aycayia to the highest bidder or at least hoisting her carcass as a trophy for his arduous efforts. [. . .]
There is no happy conclusion. The search for the mermaid will continue and her change from mermaid to an indigenous woman of history – “cursed centuries ago by some women, for her beauty,” is ephemeral. Roffey’s work thrives on a deontological underbelly that unveils our potential for the sacred and the profane. [. . .]
For more information, see https://www.peepaltreepress.com/books/mermaid-black-conch