Fire in the Canes- Glenville Lovell

History is a funny thing. It like the water running down a hill. It does only change direction when something strong enough stand in the way.”- Glenville Lovell, Fire in the Canes

This was an interesting story and a reminder to me to read more Caribbean literature. Set in a Caribbean island village called Monkey Road, it looks at a black community post-slavery, still reliant on the plantation for work. The book is ostensibly a love story that weaves in Caribbean myths and magical realism to the stories of the island community’s African forebears.

I liked the discussion on how Africa was seen by the descendants of the slaves; the image of Africa held a mythical impression, and the black inhabitants of the island felt the bones of the slaves who were brought over from Africa were still not at peace because they were on foreign soil.

There was  a lot of discussion of the supernatural, and an unusual love story that continues to have repercussions years later. Memory was definitely an important theme.

“Memory and dream may be alike but you do not bring evidence back from the voyage into a dream. Or do you? She was not sure.”

“She would never admit to being a superstitious woman. There was nothing superstitious about the things she felt in her blood. She came from a long line of women who were highly sensitive to the supernatural.”

I was curious about how people “did” relationships, and one of the numerous terrible effects on slavery, which a lot has been written about and discussed, is how the black family as a unit during those times was pretty much non-existent;  black families could not really remain in their family groups because they were often sold. In a sense this book shows that the repercussions of these acts carried on in this society at least. While this was true, as a woman it was quite disappointing to see how relationships played out in a post-slavery society. “But slave habits die hard” is how the author put it.

I liked this book and I think it was a good reminder to those of us who forget that slavery also occurred in places outside of the U.S., and that the results were disastrous wherever it took place.


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