02 Dec

Divina Trace

Divina Trace
The acclaimed novel of Caribbean magic and language. Winner of the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book.
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About the Book

A mysterious child, half human, half-frog, is born on the island of Corpus Christi in the West Indies. Its mother becomes Magdalena Divina, patron saint of the island, worshipped by Hindu and Muslim Cast Indians, Africans, Catholics and indigenous Indians alike. The frogchild, allegedly drowned in a pot of callaloo by the wife of the man who sired it, becomes the focus of an evolving legend as Johnny Domingo hears this story, about his family from different people and tries, impossibly, to piece it together into one coherent and true account.

Many strange events must be reconciled: Magdalena’s suicide while giving birth; the live burial of the frog-child in a glass bottle in the Domingo family cemetery; the wanderings of a statue of Magdalena through the Maraval swamp. As Johnny seeks the truth, seven distinct visions emerge, remarkably different not only in the recounting of the events but in the telling as well – each teller relaying the story in dialect, with the richness and cadences of his or her native speech.
In the center of the novel, the statue of the miraculous black madonna reveals her own version – as a variation of Vaalmiki’s epic, the Ramayana, also including the monkey-god Hanuman’s tale, told in its own remarkable monkey language.
In this extraordinary first novel, Robert Antoni adds a Caribbean spin to magical realism, taking on such themes as the irreconcilability of science and religion; the inexactitude and mutability of language; and the power of family, myth and mysticism ¬with spectacular results.

 

 

About the Author
Robert Antoni

The inspiration for Robert Antoni’s writing is his long family history in Trinidad and Tobago, and his upbringing in the Bahamas. His fictional world is the British West Indies—the region’s characters, atmosphere, history, folklore, and above all its vernacular languages; it is informed by a pan- Caribbean consciousness of race, gender, religion, and class. Antoni is the author of the landmark West Indian novel, Divina Trace, for which he received the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. His other books include Blessed is the Fruit, My Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales, and Carnival, short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers Prize in the Best Book Category. For his recent novel, As Flies to Whatless Boys, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow. Antoni’s books have been translated into Spanish, French, Finnish, and Chinese. His short fiction was selected as an Editor’s Choice, included in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, and chosen for the Aga Kahn Prize by the Paris Review. Antoni recently received the NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad and Tobago National Library. He holds an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He lives in Manhattan and teaches in the graduate writing program at The New School University.

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