Reviews

"‘Land of Love and Drowning,’ Tiphanie Yanique’s debut novel, is a saga, though not strictly speaking a generational one. The story concentrates on the lives of two sisters: Eeona Bradshaw, heiress of a rarefied old-world gentility, though without the wealth required to support it, and the younger Anette, born on the eve of the family’s collapse into financial ruin. With less educational opportunity, Anette has a saltier sensibility, expressed in a bawdy West Indian patois — while Eeona insists on the most proper English and frets about ladies crossing their legs. Much of the social spectrum of the Virgin Islands lies between these two women. Yanique has set out to write the epic of this region and culture, and in fact this book deserves better than to be labeled with last-century publishing buzzwords." - Read more at Boston Globe

"In her first novel, inspired by her own Caribbean family history, award-winning short-story writer Yanique spins a series of seductive tales covering six decades and three generations. She begins with Owen Arthur Bradshaw of St Thomas, captain and owner of a cargo ship. "Men who spend their lives on water understand that magic is real," Yanique writes. It's 1917, when Denmark is transferring the Virgin Islands to American control. The captain's wife Antoinette, is from the coral island of Anegada ("the drowned land"). Life there is fishing, swimming and eating lobster twice a day. An ancient curse commences when his mistress Rebekah, a market lady and healer, gives birth to his son. Yanique's distinctive cast of characters tell of shipwrecks, hurricanes, wartime and the roiling energies of love." - BBC

"With the confidence of a seasoned storyteller, the St. Thomas-born writer spools an evocative history of place around the multigenerational family saga in this brilliant novel about family ties and the tangled web they can weave..." - Bustle

"You wouldn’t find Tiphanie Yanique’s sublime novel Land of Love and Drowning in the historical fiction section of your local bookstore, but it does transport you to the island of St. Thomas at the turn of the century, just as the Danes are handing over control of the Virgin Islands to the United States. Yanique presents us with a story set on her home island, a family saga that spans some 60 years. Her prose combines a touch of Gabriel García Márquez, William Faulkner transported to the Caribbean, and Zadie Smith’s grasp on a place’s dialect and ability..." - Flavorwire

"The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique is a breakthrough novel, Yanique’s second work. This narrative covers three generations of one Caribbean family in the Virgin Islands. Complete with sprinkles of magical realism, this novel will keep you coming back until the last page. It’s an engrossing novel of family pride and shame; culture clashes of Americans, Caribbeans, African-Americans, World War II, lust, secrets, curses, and lore. What makes it work? Simply the voices of the characters—an older daughter schooled in British stodginess; a younger sister whose island patois is a welcome lure; male suitors that win and lose these women; and all the other people whose lives were interrupted when their Virgin Islands became part of the United States." - Ebony

"For her debut novel, Yanique (author of the story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony) has written an epic multigenerational tale set in the U.S. Virgin Islands that traces the ambivalent history of its inhabitants during the course of the 20th century. The story follows two sisters whose genteel prospects are shattered after the sudden death of their father, Owen Arthur Bradshaw, a descendent of West African slaves and owner of a cargo ship. Eeona, the older of the two, is a famous beauty who terrifies men with her radiance and high-caste pretensions, while her younger sister, Anette, is sensuous and passionate, holding on to her local dialect and identity. Ever recalling memories of her father, Eeona struggles to escape St. Thomas and achieve a measure of freedom. Anette, meanwhile, falls desperately in love with Jacob, who, unbeknownst to her, is actually her half-brother. The novel shows how global conflicts, including World War II, and America’s legacy of racism shape the lives of Jacob and other islanders. As Anette becomes a mother and Eeona becomes a spectral embodiment of the islands’ mystery, American tourism gradually upends the local economy and deprives the natives of land, beaches, and freedom. Amid the devastation of hurricanes and exploitation by wealthy American entrepreneurs, the sisters struggle to understand their history, their place in the modern world, and the fatal attraction of the islands’ magical beauty. Through the voices and lives of its native people, Yanique offers an affecting narrative of the Virgin Islands that pulses with life, vitality, and a haunting evocation of place." - Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

"“Family will always kill you—some bit by bit, others all at once. It is the love that does it.” So explains Land of Love and Drowning, a beautiful novel by Tiphanie Yanique (How to Escape from a Leper Colony) that chronicles the lives of three generations in the US Virgin Islands in a magic realist family saga..." - PopMatters

""Nowadays people think historians are stuffy types, but history is a kind of magic I doing here." So says Anette, the most compelling of the characters populating "Land of Love and Drowning" by Virgin Islands native Tiphanie Yanique. A multigenerational novel set in Yanique's native land, "Love and Drowning" opens just before the U.S. arrives, after purchasing several of the islands from Denmark in 1917. It concludes in the 1970s." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"I finished Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning earlier this week. It’s a fantastic novel, one that spans years and does interesting things with what is, on the surface, a familiar-looking kind of narrative: the one that follows a small group of characters over a span of decades, and finds them walking through a shifting society. And, yes, Yanique’s novel is set in the Virgin Islands, and yes, it does (mostly) follow two sisters as they witness and take part in shifts in the world in which they live, from wars to natural disasters to the U.S.’s governance of their home..." - Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"Land of Love and Drowning, Tiphanie Yanique’s debut novel, is a deftly plotted family saga about freedom, mythology and illicit love. Opening in 1917 on the island of St. Thomas, Yanique unwinds the story of the Bradshaws, Owen Arthur and his wife, Antoinette, and their two daughters, Eeona and Anette..." - Dallas Morning News

“This debut novel is so gorgeously written and such a joy to read that I doled it out to myself in 20-page sips to make the pleasure last as long as possible. What more can I say?! It is challenging in the way that the best books are – Yanique asks readers to explore difficult dynamics and sit with uncomfortable moments – and it makes for an immensely rewarding reading experience. I’m hesitant to say anything that will give away the plot. Come to this book with fresh eyes and an open mind, and be prepared to be dazzled.” - Rebecca Joines Schinsky. BookRiot

“A debut novel traces the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands through the fate of a family marked by lust, magic and social change. Of the atoll where her parents met, Anette Bradshaw says: ‘You seen even a postcard of Anegada? It too pretty. Like heaven and hell marry up and birth all the beauty goodness and badness could possibly make.’ Anette's is one of four narrative voices in this novel by St. Thomas–born Yanique (How to Escape from a Leper Colony, 2010), which follows the story of the children and grandchildren of Capt. Owen Arthur Bradshaw, a man whose unchecked appetites cause trouble for a good half-century after his ship goes down. In alternating short chapters, we hear from a wise, playful third-person narrator and, in first person, from each of Bradshaws' three outlandishly beautiful children: Eeona, both his daughter and his lover; Anette, who never knew either of her parents before their untimely deaths; and Jacob, Bradshaw’s unacknowledged son by a back-street mistress. Eeona becomes an imperious queen of a woman who never gets over her love for her father, refusing even the suit of a fellow who proposes 70-odd times; she moves to St. John and becomes entangled with a lost character from the family romantic tree. Half siblings Anette and Jacob are also ruled by incestuous passion, though they are unaware of their relationship, which is only partially derailed by Jacob's sojourns on the mainland for military service and medical school. Their story is interwoven with both the folklore and history of the island: backward-facing feet, silver pubic hair and a race of demigods called the Duene are sprinkled among scenes of development, hurricanes, tourism and the social movements of the 1960s and '70s. Bubbling with talent and ambition, this novel is a head-spinning Caribbean cocktail.” - Kirkus (starred review)

“A few years ago, Tiphanie Yanique wowed us with her phenomenal story collection, How to Escape from a Leper Colony. Now she brings us this astonishing and wondrous novel. Multilayered, multigenerational and epic in both talent and scope, In Land Of Love And Drowning is a stunning first novel about family, history, home and much, much more. Tiphanie Yanique’s tremendous talents and incredible storytelling will astound you and leave you breathless.” - Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light

“In Land Of Love And Drowning, Tiphanie Yanique paints a poignant, electrifying panorama of the Virgin Islands. Breaking writerly rules left and right, Yanique’s sentences seem effortless, free. Yet watch as these assemble into a family saga of unforgettable gravitas. A magnificent story marvelously told.” – Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn

“In Land Of Love And Drowning is a gorgeous incantation of a novel, a masterful fusion of place, language, and seductive storytelling that will hold you spellbound from its first pages to the last. Tiphanie Yanique takes on all of it--the bitter and the sweet, love and loss, betrayal and faith, as well as the distant machinations of state that push us about like so many minnows on ocean tides--and does so with a grace and wisdom that are nothing short of profound. This book is an absolute marvel.” — Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

“In Land Of Love And Drowning is a marvel—epic and sweeping, yet intimate as a secret. It’s a tour de force combining naturalism and lyricism, myth and history. This is a story that feels ancient and modern at the same time. Tiphanie Yanique is a prodigiously talented new writer with a sharp voice, wicked humor, and compassion beyond measure.” — Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

“What a miracle this book is. Tiphanie Yanique unites the sweep of history and the tenderest movements of the heart in writing so beautiful it’s breathtaking. Both an epic and a three-generation love poem, it’s irresistible.” — Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Sky Below