“The child seemed to represent some kind of perverse alchemy that had taken place in the deep earth . . . where he was fashioned”
A vivid epic following an unusual couple’s mysterious love affair from childhood to adulthood, across rural Jamaica and England
‘Captivating from the very first page’ Jennifer Egan
Shortlisted for the Fiction category in the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature
Discovered amidst a tangle of sea grape trees by the childless Rachel Fisher, baby Moshe’s provenance is a thing of myth and mystery; his unusual appearance, with blueish, translucent skin and duo-toned hair, only serves to compound his mystique.
Equally feared and ridiculed by peers as he grows up, he finds a surprising kindred soul in the striking and bold Arrienne Christie, but their complex relationship is fraught with obstacles that tear them apart as powerfully as they are drawn together.
Beginning in the late 1950s, four years before Jamaica’s independence from colonial rule, A Tall History of Sugar’s epic love story sweeps between a rural Jamaica, scarred by the legacies of colonialism, and an England increasingly riven by race riots and class division.
“A Tall History of Sugar is captivating from the very first page. Mythic in dimension yet movingly human in its details, alive with atmospheric richness, it heralds a fascinating new voice in English-language fiction”
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“A novel of Jamaica, brimming with magic, passion and history … Forbes’s writing combines the gale-force imagination of Margaret Atwood with the lyrical pointillism of Toni Morrison … This is a book for savouring”
new York Times
“The premise … is ingenious, and the novel is an epic modern fairytale that offers the pleasure of being steeped in Forbes’s poetic, intoxicating sentences right from the opening line”
“Forbes’ novel has the register of a fairytale or a myth; Arriene’s narration flows in storytelling fashion and is as intimate as a tale shared around a campfire. Moshe himself becomes a cipher through which Forbes explores issues of racism, heritage, colonialism and identity. Forbes’ skilful and instinctual use of local languages and dialects further taps into a rich Jamaican oral culture, in a story that dreams of being read aloud”
“Densely descriptive, linguistically rich … its heart is the thread connecting two people who believe they are the halves of a single whole, and the intense, exquisite agonies of their obsessive love”
Curdella Forbes is a Jamaican writer. She has published four previous works of fiction: Songs of Silence, A Permanent Freedom, Ghosts, and a children’s book, Flying with Icarus and Other Stories. She lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, and teaches at Howard University where she is a professor of Caribbean literature. She names among her literary influences the oral traditions of rural Jamaica, the fairy tales of her childhood and the work of Gabriel García Márquez.