Angela Barry’s The Drowned Forest was published by Peepal Tree Press in June 2022. The author explains, “I always knew I wanted to devote a novel to telling something of Bermuda’s story. I think that as somebody who devised the first real course on Bermudian literature, I noted to my students that there are several Bermudas and these different Bermudas don’t always interlock. I wanted to write a book that tried to envisage the whole, I wanted the book not to be from a single perspective but to provide a more nuanced view. I knew it was an ambitious project.”
According to Bermuda’s Royal Gazette, the characters represent a diverse cross section of the island’s community [. . .]: “There is Nina, from the respectable Black middle-class, with her own prickly uncertainties and moral hang-ups; Lizzie, fighting for her own space in a Portuguese family railing against changing times; Tess, battling with guilt over her white privilege and her reluctance to lose its benefits; and Hugh, a young Welshman who has come to the island to find himself …”
Description (Peepal Tree Press): In the discovery of a fossilized tree stump deep off the coast of Bermuda, Angela Barry finds a potent metaphor of long-term climate change against which to measure the alarms, resentments and hopes of future possibilities expressed by her characters as they respond to Bermuda’s emergence from colonial status. Modernity brings challenges to the old racial, cultural and religious hierarchies that have dominated the island. Told through a group of characters brought together in shared responsibility for Genesis, a young Black adolescent girl on the verge of incarceration as a juvenile offender, and by Genesis herself, Barry explores a clashing of subcultures, each with the sense that their Bermuda is the one that possesses the island’s virtues. There is Nina, from the respectable Black middle-class, with her own prickly uncertainties and moral hang-ups; Lizzie, fighting for her own space in a Portuguese family railing against changing times; Tess, battling with guilt over her white privilege and her reluctance to lose its benefits; and Hugh, a young Welshman who has come to the island to find himself. Above all, in the character of Genesis, Barry creates a dynamic and winning portrayal of the energies, hopes, conscience and vulnerabilities of youth. Beyond the human world with all its divisions, there are the little-known islands of Bermuda, for whose stunning beauties and sometimes urban ugliness Barry has a vividly descriptive eye.
Peepal Tree Press invites you to listen to Angela Barry talking about Bermuda and her new novel on the Love the Words podcast online here and on Apple Podcasts.
For more information, see https://www.peepaltreepress.com/books/drowned-forest
Also read “Acclaimed novelist Angela Barry to unveil new novel on Friday,” by Sarah Lagan, Royal Gazette (https://www.royalgazette.com/entertainment/news/article/20220713/acclaimed-novelist-angela-barry-to-unveil-new-novel-on-friday)