How to Escape from a Leper Colony: A Novella and Other Stories


An enthralling debut collection from a singular Caribbean voice For a leper, many things are impossible, and many other things are easily done. Babalao Chuck said he could fly to the other side of the island and peek at the nuns bathing. And when a man with no hands claims that he can fly, you listen. The inhabitants of an island walk into the sea. A man passes a jail cells window, shouldering a wooden cross. And in the international shop of coffins, a story repeats itself, pointing toward an inevitable tragedy. If the facts of these stories are sometimes fantastical, the situations they describe are complex and all too real. Lyrical, lush, and haunting, the prose shimmers in this nuanced debut, set mostly in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Part oral history, part postcolonial narrative, How to Escape from a Leper Colony is ultimately a loving portrait of a wholly unique place. Like Gabriel García Márquez, Edwidge Danticat, and Maryse Condé before her, Tiphanie Yanique has crafted a book that is heartbreaking, hilarious, magical, and mesmerizing. An unforgettable collection.

In Yanique’s splendid debut, the author explores the complexities of love and loss, desire and tragedy: whether it’s people who are lovers or people who are in love with someone whom is unaware of the affection, the author examines the rewards and consequences of the various degrees of intimate relationships. In a richly created collection of stories that take place in the Caribbean, African and the United States, the memorable characters and vividly expressed turn of events are anchored with moments of dark humor and the author’s fantastical storytelling

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Tiphanie Yanique
Graywolf Press
Publication Date:
March 02, 2010