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Even in Paradise
Even in Paradise
Even in Paradise
Электронная книга359 страниц5 часов

Even in Paradise

Автор Elizabeth Nunez

Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд



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A novel of family, privilege, and poverty, described as “King Lear in the Caribbean” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
A New York Post Must-Read Book
Peter Ducksworth, a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry, retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear, who hoped “That future strife/May be prevented now.” But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth. Feeling snubbed by his youngest daughter, Ducksworth decides that only after he dies will she receive her portion of the land. In the meantime, he gives his two older daughters their portions, ironically setting in motion the very strife he hoped to prevent.
“An epic tale of family betrayal and manipulation couched in superbly engaging prose and peopled with deftly drawn characters. In a story structure as rhythmic as the ebb and flow of the water surrounding Trinidad and Barbados, this revisiting of the classic story of King Lear becomes a subtle, organic exploration of politics, class, race, and privilege. A dazzling, epic triumph.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Nunez’s textured and engaging novel explores familial discord, along with questions of kinship and self-identity. . . . Nunez crafts an introspective tale as her vividly drawn characters navigate complications of heritage, race, and loyalty.” —Booklist
“A Caribbean reimagining of King Lear that adds colonialism and racism to the story of three sisters, the men they love and their battle over the deed to their father’s beloved property.” —Ms. Magazine
“Even if you’re not familiar with King Lear, William Shakespeare’s great tragedy, you will still enjoy Even in Paradise.” —Essence
ИздательAkashic Books
Дата выпуска14 мар. 2016 г.
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Elizabeth Nunez

Elizabeth Nunez is the award-winning author of a memoir and nine novels, four of them selected as New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her two most recent books are Not for Everyday Use, a memoir, which won the 2015 prestigious Hurston Wright Legacy Award for nonfiction, and the novel Even in Paradise, a contemporary version of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Her other novels are: Boundaries (nominated for the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Fiction); Anna In-Between (PEN Oakland Award for Literary Excellence and long-listed for an IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award); Prospero’s Daughter (2010 Trinidad and Tobago One Book, One Community selection, and the 2006 Florida Center for the Literary Arts One Book, One Community); Bruised Hibiscus (American Book Award); Beyond the Limbo Silence (Independent Publishers Book Award); Grace; Discretion; and When Rocks Dance. Nunez received her PhD from New York University and is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, CUNY, where she teaches courses on Caribbean Women Writers and Creative Writing.

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Рейтинг: 3.96 из 5 звезд

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  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    This book does a great job with naturally and meaningfully introducing issues of race, land use, colonial legacy, and national identity in its lushly developed Caribbean setting. In contrast, most of the characters were very flat, with little understandable motivation beyond their actions. The plot felt plodding, and in the end the climax left me wanting and also left some hefty loose ends in what otherwise seemed to be a standalone novel. The dialogue felt sometimes overly formal. I do wish Nunez had spent more time on the conflicts arising from race, identity, and colonial legacy and less on the evil sisters/inheritance Lear plot, because her writing was at its most compelling and engaging when addressing those, and she had powerful things to say. An enjoyable read in a well-developed setting that taught me a lot about the Caribbean, Even in Paradise falls a little flat in its characters and the actions driving the plot.
  • Рейтинг: 2 из 5 звезд
    Hugely disappointing. "King Lear" is one of the most majestic and challenging works ever penned, plumbing the depths of human cruelty and depravity, precariously balancing against those forces our capacity for love, loyalty, and forgiveness, doing so in language that pushes the very limits of what words can express. What's the point of writing a contemporary novel based on such a tragic monument if you're not going to at least take a stab at some of that? Elizabeth Nunez's "Even in Paradise" settles for just cribbing its plot and its character list (going so far as to have the narrator comment on the parallels several times, even grad-studentsplaining them to other characters), in language that barely ever rises above the pedestrian. Even where the novel does something interesting and original — transposing the story to modern-day Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica, with their varied and troubling legacies of colonial exploitation and the persistence of white privilege — it doesn't so much explore those themes as tentatively allude to them, then back away to focus more on the soap-opera of the plot's domestic conflicts. That plot unfolds so ploddingly that it never gains momentum (in contrast with its source, which plunges us into the disastrous division of Lear's estate, his rejection of Cordelia, and the machinations of Goneril, Regan, and Edmund within the first scene, the novel doesn't get around to that plot point till about 2/3 of the way through), and caps it off with a meek little plot twist that you can spot a mile away. I sure hope I'll be more impressed by Edward St. Aubyn's and Preti Taneja's takes on the material.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    I won this through a librarything giveaway and was very happy to have the chance to read and review it. This story takes place in present day Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica and is a modern retelling of King Lear. It follows the play to a degree, but I was surprised and delighted by the deviations it took from the plot. Ducksworth, a rich white man, and his three daughters live on Barbados. The story is about the relationship of the daughters with their father. It is told from Emile's pov. He is a poet from Trinidad and he falls for Corrine, the youngest of Ducksworth daughters. The story deals with cultural divides, prejudices, and the lingering effects of colonialism. The conflict results from Ducksworth fighting to hold onto his power and the struggle to divide his land between his three daughters as well as the respective relationships his three daughter encounter with their soon to be husbands. Overall an interesting read. I especially enjoyed the evocation of the island through the luscious details given in the prose.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    This was the first book I read by this highly regarded author and I look forward to reading more of her work. I loved the comfortable and engaging writing style that pulled one into this story of greed, racism, classicism, Islamophobia, family disfunction and, yes, love and its of it. This is the King Lear drama played out in the paradise that is the Caribbean islands, with their beauty, history of oppression and slavery, multiculturalism and social issues. The island people, their culture and their history are as strongly and clearly presented as are the main characters, their backdrops and their strength and weaknesses. Really enjoyed this book.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    The story revolves around a rich Trinidadian man of British descent who retires to Barbados and becomes the owner of some beautiful beachfront property. While he is still living, he decides to gift his property to his daughters - - the two married/almost married daughter will receive their land immediately; the younger unmarried daughter will receive the house and the land it is built on after he dies. But, even though the father thought he was doing the right thing, the two oldest daughters felt they had not been treated fairly and their greed consumed them. In my opinion, this rang true to life. I have witnessed first hand how an expected inheritance and the entitlement mentality that some children have can tear a family apart.An underlying theme of the story revolved around the complex race relations and the cultural divides between the haves and the have-nots. To me, this was an even more important part of the story, showing how deep prejudices lie even in these modern times.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    Set in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica, this novel is not only a retelling of [King Lear], but also a view of the complexities of the Caribbean societies that result from slavery and colonialism. Èmile Baxter, the narrator, is a black Trinidadian. His best friend, Albert Glazal is Trinidadian of Lebanese descent. When Albert becomes engaged to Glynis Duckworth, we are introduced to another group of Trinidadians, those of British descent. As in [Lear] there are three sisters, but theirs wasn't the most compelling story.As the story progresses, we see how slavery and colonialism still affect society in the islands. The Syrian-Lebanese community usually marries within itself, and whites and blacks don't date. Glynis voices the unspoken rule when she says that Èmile is an unsuitable boyfriend for her sister Corinne because he is black. Whites are privileged, while blacks live in poor, underserved neighborhoods like the Tivoli Gardens.Èmile, who aspires to be a poet, becomes involved in the literary scene, and we see the importance of art to a culture: "Stories, poems connect with people emotionally, make them feel. It's the heart, not the head that causes people to take to the streets, that sets off revolutions when you feel other people's pain -- and stories and poetry make you feel other people's pain -- you can't just sit back and do nothing. You have to demand change."And perhaps this also speaks to the enduring power of the story of [King Lear]. Art allows people to express themselves: no matter the race, class or ethnicity.Nunez has written a wonderful, thoughtful novel, that makes us look at how the past influences our lives today. This is my first novel by her, but it won't be the last.
  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    I think Even in Paradise found a good way to bring King Lear into a modern setting while keeping the spirit of the play. I also liked the setting. I have not read much (if anything) set in the Caribbean and it was interesting to see these popular vacation destinations from the point of view of the people who live there and have to deal with the fact that it is not always paradise. It deals with the divide between races, classes and religions. It did draw me in and make me want to know what was going to happen. I got invested in the story. I just wish that King Lear had not been referenced in the story directly. The play is embedded in the story so well that the name of the play never had to come up. I wish I was left to make those connections myself.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    4+. King Lear, three daughters, greed and manipulation, and a mentally disintegrating father. Nunez takes this to the Caribbean, Trinidad and Barbados and uses a family named Duckworth, a widower with three daughters to tell her story. Moving from Barbados from Trinidad, Mr. Duckworth has a beautiful house on some gorgeous land, land his two, elder daughters desperately want. They are also jealous of the youngest, Corinne who is apple of her Father's eye. Into this mix is Emilie, the black son of Duckworth's physician and his friend Alfred, who is of Lebanese descent and becomes engaged to the eldest Duckworth daughter.Amazing writing, absolutely gorgeous, very addicting story told very well. The manipulations and greed of the two eldest sisters plays out against a backdrop of racial discrimination and a politically charged time in Trinidad. The Tivoli Garden massacre is part of a young activist's poem and Tivoli Gardens itself will be used to construct the attempted downfall of the youngest sister. But greed is I believe is the unifying theme, greed of country rulers and the greed within a family. Well played out juxtaposition. First book by this author for me, but it will not be my last. ARC from publisher.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    When giving Elizabeth Nunez's novel "Even In Paradise" a star rating, I hovered between the 3 and 4 stars. I liked this novel. It was a pleasant read and I agree with the blurbs on the cover, the cadence of the story was Caribbean in nature. The characters kept me engaged. My hesitation was simply that I tend to enjoy more emotional tales....or perhaps "deeper" language used to tell such tales. To say this story isn't deep would be not fair either. Ms Nunez gives voice to an area of the world many see as a vacation paradise, when indeed the Caribbean has a much richer history. This book is a difficult review for me as a reader, as a former book seller I can honestly say that there are many readers who I could recommend this book to, especially those interested in discussion. I applaud Ms. Nunez on her success in bringing to life her corner of the world.....I am richer for having read this book.

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Even in Paradise - Elizabeth Nunez


I met Corinne Ducksworth when she was a young girl, just turned twelve. There was nothing about her or about the day I first saw her to give me the slightest warning that years later I would fall hopelessly in love with her. At sixteen, I considered myself already a man, and Corinne, to my mind, was still a child.

She had come with her father, Peter Ducksworth, to the racetracks at the Queen’s Park Savannah, in the heart of Port of Spain, Trinidad’s capital, and I had come with mine. My father, being a stickler for punctuality, had insisted we arrive some fifteen minutes early and I was forced to wait on one of the green wood benches that lined the sidewalk around the Savannah while my father paced, glancing back and forth from the racetracks to the street, checking his watch and mumbling under his breath about inconsiderate people who think nothing about wasting other people’s time. He was facing the opposite direction when I saw the Ducksworths coming toward us, the daughter skipping ahead, two thick plaits swinging across her face, legs long and gangly like a young colt’s, girlish knobby knees, the father trailing behind her, red-faced, huffing and puffing.

Sorry, old man. He extended a thick, sweaty hand to my father. Had to wait for her.

He tossed his head in his daughter’s direction and pursed his lips as if he were angry with her, but I could tell he was pretending for I did not miss the gleam in his eyes. I had already been told that Corinne Ducksworth was Peter Ducksworth’s favorite child, the youngest of his three daughters, the apple of his eye.

Oh, Daddy. Corinne raised herself on her tiptoes and kissed her father on the cheek, disarming him completely. The lips softened, the gleam intensified, proving the rumors not unfounded. "You know I was the one waiting for you," she said gaily.

Had to have my coffee. Peter Ducksworth grinned sheepishly at my father. Keeps me alert this early in the morning.

My father shook his hand and then glanced again at his watch. The Ducksworths were five minutes late, an eternity for my father. Sun will be up soon, he grunted.

It was dark, not quite dawn, the stars still visible, shining like diamonds in the navy-blue sky. Dew beaded the grass in the Savannah, skirting above the cool damp earth and signaling the first hints of the coming heat. It had rained all week and the ground was sodden beneath our feet. Along the path to the racetracks and some distance beyond, the Savannah was potholed with pools of thick mud that clung to clumps of grass, making it seem as though tiny brown and green bouquets tied with string had been deliberately planted there.

Corinne was far ahead of us, skipping happily again, a silhouette of arms and legs flung backward and forward until she slipped and I saw her go down, sliding across the wet grass. Peter Ducksworth roared with laughter and quickened his pace toward her. Well, you wanted to come with me, he said, stretching out his hand to help her up. I told you it would be messy here.

She screwed up her face, lips and nose twisted comically, turned away from him, and tried to brace herself up on the palms of her hands. Feisty, I thought, but she slipped again and this time I rushed to help her. Her hands were clotted with mud that spread over mine when I pulled her up and for a split second our eyes met. Was that the moment she pierced my heart?

Don’t know why they call this a savannah, Ducksworth said, casting a disapproving eye at me before turning back to his daughter. Look at your shorts. They’re covered in mud. He fished out a handkerchief from his pants pocket and handed it to her. From where I stood, I could see there were brownish stains on it.

Daddy! she cried, and pushed away the handkerchief. It’s filthy. I told you I’ll wash your clothes if you put them in the hamper.

Use it anyhow. He waved the dirty handkerchief at her.

Put it away. She wiped her hands on her shorts, spreading the mud even farther across the back and front.

My father’s head jerked backward involuntarily and his mouth fell open. But if he were shocked by Corinne’s defiance (I had never dared to defy him so openly), he said nothing, though I had not failed to notice the tightening of the muscles in his jaw when he closed his mouth.

My daughter, Ducksworth said, balling up the handkerchief and shoving it in his pocket, she has her own mind. But she looks after me. Right, Corinne? He winked at her.

When you let me, Daddy, she said.

It’s this place, Ducksworth grumbled. Always muddy. Queen’s Park Savannah, hah! No more park than a savannah.

And strictly speaking, he was right, for the Queen’s Park Savannah—we referred to it simply as The Savannah—was neither a savannah nor a park, though indeed, in the hundred and sixty-five years before we gained our independence, it was once the property of the reigning British monarch since Trinidad was among the chain of islands in the Caribbean that belonged to England after she won her battles with Spain in 1797.

Enslaved Africans, driven mercilessly under a broiling sun, had planted sugarcane here, where we now stood—Peter Ducksworth and his daughter, my father and I—turning what had been a rainforest thick with massive trees and bushes into a thriving sugarcane plantation so that the English could have proper parks in the motherland: Pemberley, where the dashing Mr. Darcy romanced the beautiful Elizabeth Bennet; Mansfield Park, where poor, innocent Fanny Price was cowed into silence when she dared to ask Sir Thomas Bertram what business he had in