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Unburnable

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Unburnable.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Marie-Elena John(Author)

    Book details


unburnable is a work of literary fiction that is at once a
love story, a murder mystery, a multigenerational epic, and a
reinterpretation of Black history - defies neat categorization. Covering
the African Diaspora, this riveting narrative of family, betrayal,
vengeance, and murder, follows Lillian Baptiste as she is willed back to
her island home of Dominica from Washington, D.C. to finally settle her
past. Haunted by scandal and secrets, Lillian left Dominica when she was 14
years old after discovering she was the daughter of Iris, the half-crazy
Carib woman; and the granddaughter of Matilda, convicted and hung for
murder. Their infamous lives were told of in chante mas songs sung during
Carnival -- songs about a village on a mountaintop and bones and bodies,
about African masquerades and a man who dropped dead. Lillian knows these
Carnival songs - thus the history - belongs to her. After 20 years away,
she returns to face the demons of her past, and with the help of Teddy, the
man she has until now refused to love, she is determined to find her
answers. Set partly in contemporary Washington, D.C. and partly in the
Caribbean island of Dominica, Unburnable is the dazzling debut of a
talented writer who deftly intertwines the African-American experience with
authentic Caribbean culture and history - the Caribs, the Maroons, the
African origins of Carnival, the practice of Obeah - and in doing so,
showcases a new literary voice confident enough to also deliver a
page-turner.

2.2 (8358)
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Book details

  • PDF | 296 pages
  • Marie-Elena John(Author)
  • Amistad Press (April 2006)
  • English
  • 7
  • Fiction

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Review Text

  • By jean on 30 January 2007

    In spite of the first review which made note of a disappointing end, I had no complaints in that or any department. I don't mind ambiguous endings; or endings that don't deliver a fairy-tale. This was a deep, engaging story that had me forsaking sleep so I could keep reading to get just one more little "reveal" to take me a little closer to the answers. Still, I wasn't able to anticipate what it would all turn out to be. The richness of the culture Ms. John describes reads as completely authentic. I like the fact that I got an education without sacrificing the story. Intelligent writing, good plot, and raw talent all come together in Unburnable. I recommend this book highly.

  • By lizzie on 3 February 2007

    I read this book because it was a "best of 2006" selection by a U.S. review magazine. I recommend it to anyone who appreciates good storytelling. The author also knows her subject matter intricately, and the reader also goes on a journey deep into Caribbean and African culture. There is a Black American character and perspective as well, but the focus is on the part of Caribbean culture that's not known. There is something for everybody. Mystery, murder, secrets, scandals, and love stories. There is strong sexual content as well, which is well done and is not gratuitous.Once I started reading, it was difficult to put down, because of how the author kept up the suspense.I will read this book a second time, it was that good.

  • By bookworm on 3 February 2007

    This novel ranks among my best reads in a long, long time. The quality of the writing was outstanding, yet even if it qualifies for the "literary" category, there was all the plot an action-type reader (me) could want. I liked the way the writer kept me on my toes, throwing out clues and then throwing me for a loop. There was layer after layer of information, until at the end it was all peeled away -- but then you only think you have the answer, before you get thrown again. I also enjoyed learning about Dominica, which I didn't know anything about before. Great book. The ending wasn't all neatly tied up, but I don't think every story should have a fairy-tale end. Five stars from me.

  • By Toni on 2 July 2007

    I was given Unburnable as a gift and kept in in my stack of Books To Read Soon. Then I read what Adichie had to say about it in The Guardian, and I moved it to the Read Now pile. I read it on one long stretch. Like Adichie, I found it to be "wondrously intelligent" and it also had me laughing aloud one minute; but the next moment it would make me flinch with its take-no-prisoners approach. Race, class, gender, sexuality, it's all there. I see why Adichie was swept away by it, in fact it is similar to her books in style and substance. A great read.

  • By Fran on 9 October 2012

    The blurb was fascinating and I read a few pages in the 'Look Inside.' It's a great idea for a story but I wasn't sure I liked the author's delivery. A few times I felt that I was reading a history book. Some useful/interesting aspects of history didn't seem to flow in with the narative but just plonked in as it was researched. I didn't sympathise with any of the characters, unfortunately, so I was left a little cold at the end. The ending, by the way, is not conclusive. I guess you are expected to draw your own conclusions but it could be that the writer didn't know where she really wanted to take this. The book has received some rave reviews but I just think it is a really good story not very well delivered. The writer shows great intelligence but might be best suited to writing non-fiction, perhaps. If you like romance (and I don't mean slushy stuff) and whole characters, and strong plotlines, then this book is not for you.

  • By River on 22 July 2007

    This is the full text of Chimamanda Adichie's comments about Unburnable in The Guardian:..More recently, I read Marie-Elena John's novel Unburnable on the plane from New York to Copenhagen. I laughed aloud so often reading this wondrously intelligent book about Dominica and the United States and Africa, about gender, class and race, about love and sexuality, that the bespectacled man sitting next to me put his Wall Street Journal down and leaned over to see what the title was. He asked what it was about. I could have told him how it dealt honestly with issues without ever forgetting to keep character and soul as its centre, but instead I told him a tiny anecdote from the book about black women and thongs. And I much enjoyed his blush.It appeared on Saturday June 23, 2007.I feel the same way about this wonderful book.

  • By CeCe on 7 June 2006

    What a fantastic book, it started so well. The characters were great, the plot interesting and just as it reached its peak it took a complete nose dive!!! The ending was just wrong, and I'm sure other readers will feel the same. There were some areas which in my mind were just not believable, ie Matilda and Simon. Having said all that, it was a great read and I'm sure the author will produce more books as time goes on.


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