Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cannonball Read #6: Anna In-Between by Elizabeth Nunez

Growing up I absolutely hated reading Caribbean literature. I guess it as something to do with it being required reading and not something that I did especially for pleasure. But I picked up Anna In-Between when I heard that the author would be appearing at the Boston Book Festival in 2009. I don't know that I expected to enjoy it but I certainly wanted to give it a try. To my pleasure, Anna In-Between was a great read. Anna Sinclair, the main character, left Trinidad to attend college and became a successful editor with a publishing company that specializes in black literature in New York. She and her parents grew up as middle to upper class during the colonial times and were expose to alot of the racism inherent in that era.

This book explores familiar themes such as the relationship between a mother and a daughter and returning home. But it also uses the backdrop of Trinidad from colonial times forward to explain the tensions that exist in this family. The idea of Anna's 'inbetween"-ness existed all the way from childhood. Anna grew up alongside the "English" children but couldn't belong due to the inherent racism of the time and her family coped (as many Trinidadian families in the same situation) by adhering to the ideals set forth as proper by the British strictly.

Upon Anna's return she finds out that her mother has breast cancer but instead of going to the doctor, she has resorted to praying over her rosary in an effort to make the cancer go away. The book tries to reconcile Anna's belief in the power of America over her mother's insistence that Trinidad's ways are just as valid.

Having lived in the US for about 4 years, I can relate to Anna's concern over the seemingly "backwards" or inefficient ways in which some things are done in Trinidad. You have to come to terms with the fact that the culture and way of doing things is quite different from one country to the other. Nunez wove a story that really captured Trinidad cultural contradictions and the love that Trinidadians at home have for their country. She also captured the yearning that all emigrants feel when they leave their home country for another and how things really can never be the same once you leave.

1 comment:

  1. Just requested this book from the library, looking forward to reading it! Your blog is an interesting read. It seems like you dig Science Fiction; I am a closet nerd and I recommend Octavia Butler. She was one of the few black female sci-fi writers, and her books are pretty interesting. Kindred is a pretty good book about a black woman who unexpectedly travels through time and ends up living with one of her ancestors--who was a slave owner. I just finished Parable of a Sower, which was a decent dystopia story. I'd be interested to know what you think about her work.