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From Paul Di Filippo's "SMALL PRESS SPOTLIGHT" column on Barnes & Noble Review
In the realm of the small presses, thirty-six years amounts to a geological era. To survive and flourish for nearly four decades is a proud accomplishment that is denied all but a few firms. Examples of contemporary indie publishers still vibrant at the outer edge of small press longevity include City Lights (founded 1953), Burning Deck (founded 1961), and Fiction Collective/FC2 (founded 1973). Just a tad younger than the youngest in that list comes Graywolf Press, established in 1974 by Scott Walker.
A non-profit since the middle of the nineteen-eighties, Graywolf has made its sterling reputation in the realm of fiction, poetry, memoirs and literary criticism. Their available backlist constitutes nearly three hundred titles spread across a wide range of styles and themes, and they regularly issue upwards of twenty new books per year. Partnered in various ventures with the College of Saint Benedict, enjoying a solid base in the nation's three-wolf-moon heartland of Minnesota, Graywolf has proven that quality endures.
Lightly salted with the lilting native patois of the Caribbean -- specifically, the Virgin Islands of the author's birth -- the stories in Tiphanie Yanique's How to Escape from a Leper Colonyare elegant, quiet and sly meditations on love, status, race and family. Most are naturalistic. In "The Saving Work," two young islanders attending college in the USA deal with homesickness and first love. "Street Man" renders the inner life of a petty thug who possesses surprising depths of feelings. "Kill the Rabbits" is a triptych of three disparate livesintersecting during Carnival time. But here and there in this volume arise occasional eruptions of the macabre and surreal. "Canoe Sickness" details a bizarre psychic malady akin to that suffered by John Barth's weatherless Jacob Horner. And in the title piece, events at a refuge for lepers spiral into occult madness. Yanique establishes herself as a soul sister to writers such as Nalo Hopkinson and Tananarive Due.
How to Escape from a Leper Colony 1
The Bridge Stories 15
Street Man 31
The Saving Work 41
Canoe Sickness 61
Where Tourists Don't Go 73
The International Shop of Coffins 85
Kill the Rabbits 143
Posted August 30, 2012
This collection is a diverse set of stories each with its own take on the realities of island life and the unique flavor of drama that can result as a consequence.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.