Contemporary novel set in Barbados that centers a local family who owns a hotel… GIVE IT TO ME!
The Island of Forgetting is Jasmine Sealy’s debut novel and what am stunning debut this is! The novel starts out in Barbados in the 1960s and goes until the early 2000s. Similar in structure to HOMEGOING each chapter we are introduced to a new family member and the story picks up with them, but we do get a look at those who narrated previously.
The book opens in Barbados in 1962, we meet Ipateus who is roaming the street, he cannot seem to return home after witnessing the death of his father at the hands of his brother and mother. The guilt and fear won’t let him rest, how can his brother and mother expect him to carry this secret around? In his restlessness he meets a girl who stares into his soul, and he ends up having a child- Atlas. Atlas has big dreams- having never met his father, he relies on the kindness of his Uncle Cronus and cousin Z. He does he work, and plans to move abroad to England once he finishes his exams but life as other plans for him.
Fast forward to a decade later and Atlas is married with a daughter called Calypso and along with his wife they run the family hotel in Barbados. With tourist coming in and out, the island starts developing, people are looking to come and take the island and it’s people for all they are worth, how will Atlas protect his only child and his only income?
There is a lot happening but the story does not wavier and leave you uninterested at any point. Themes of mental health, defered dreams, regrets, colonialism, colorism, colonialism, belonging, love, coming of age, exploitation and climate change are explored in a nuanced way. The author did a brilliant job of not just telling you but SHOWING you how these different themes continue to plague the family generations alter.
You know an author is great at their craft when every single point of view switch feels real, authentic, layered and nuanced. Every time there was a new chapter and we got introduced to a new character narration, you could feel the shift in tone and voice. This goes back to strong writing skills.
I would recommend going into this book without reading the blurb. It mentions something about Greek Mythology and when I saw that I kinda got turned off because them Mythology things generally goes over my head ?
Immersive, brilliant, nuanced, fresh, atmospheric, deeply moving, tear jerker, tender and strong is how I would describe this book. Friend, this may be my book for 2022 in that, I have officially accepted the title of Lead Publicist. I won’t stop talking about this stunning debut.
For fans of HERE COMES THE SUN, HOMEGOING, FACING THE SUN, HOW TO LOVE A JAMAICAN.