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Song of Night

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Cyan is nicknamed "Night" because she is so dark. Bottom Rock is her village, just five miles from Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. Her father is known as "Steel"; he is a fisherman who teaches his daughter to love the unspoiled beauty of their island. Her mother, a foreigner from neighboring St. Lucia, is scorned as an outsider by the villagers. The smart one in the family is her sister, on whom her mother's ambitions are focused, but it is feisty Cyan who is her father's favorite. And then her father kills ...
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Overview

Cyan is nicknamed "Night" because she is so dark. Bottom Rock is her village, just five miles from Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. Her father is known as "Steel"; he is a fisherman who teaches his daughter to love the unspoiled beauty of their island. Her mother, a foreigner from neighboring St. Lucia, is scorned as an outsider by the villagers. The smart one in the family is her sister, on whom her mother's ambitions are focused, but it is feisty Cyan who is her father's favorite. And then her father kills a man in a fit of jealous rage and Cyan's tranquil life is changed forever.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For Night, the beleaguered, independent-minded Barbadian heroine of Lovell's highly wrought second novel (after the praised Fire in the Canes), life is a series of no-win scenarios. With her father hanged for murder and her beloved sister dead from a botched abortion, Night (christened Cyan but called Night "'cause I was so dark") suffers the scorn of her native fishing village until her job as a domestic leads to a life-altering friendship with the lady of the house. An artsy, expat African American, Koko is necessarily an ambiguous figure in this novel, which bitterly depicts the quasi-colonial sexual tensions between vacationers and locals. Koko encourages Night to take dressmaking courses and helps her peddle her wares to tourists on the beach. This business soon leads Night into selling her body to tourists, a trade that enriches and demeans her at once. At the same time, Night falls in love with a fellow beach vendor, who leaves Night pregnant when he decamps with a female tourist. Koko arranges for Night to give up the baby for adoption to a wealthy American woman, an act that breeds tragic consequences. After a leisurely development, Lovell concludes his narrative in a frenzied whirlwind of action and melodrama. Despite this imbalance, his ear for the musical cadences of Bajan English and his understanding of Barbadian culture underscore his evocation of an exotic location that seems like paradise but has its own share of human misery. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Cyan, nicknamed Night, abused and betrayed most of her life, is unable to stop grieving for her father, hanged as a murderer, and her sister, dead after a botched abortion. Her rage and inability to let go have isolated her from those who love her and seek her forgiveness, and she has turned to prostitution and murder. Lovell (Fire in the Canes, LJ 9/15/95), who was raised in Barbados, fashions a passionate allegory of that Caribbean island, abused by slavery and in danger of losing its people and culture to greed and the all-powerful American dollar. Even those who believe they are helping, like Cyan's African American patron (in the end, Cyan's victim), do so with an air of superiority and misunderstanding, exacerbating an already explosive situation. Lovell's mastery of language and his compassion for all of his characters contribute to a moving and tragic story. Highly recommended.--Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
From a Caribbean-born writer (Fire in the Canes, 1997), a maudlin tale of a passionate woman whose strong emotions eventually lead to tragedy. The story of Cyan, or þNight,þ the young black woman who loves to walk along the beach in starlight, is set in Barbados, a place where tourists are the new imperialists. Their hotels defile the ocean with sewage, their needs push the local men into menial jobs, and they use the women as prostitutes. They create an angry resentment among the locals, but few of them react as violently as the heavily pregnant Cyan. As the story begins, she has arranged to meet Amanda, an African-American tourist, who wants to buy her handiwork. Later, Cyan's neighbors see her being taken from her home by police. (Cyan's father, Steel, was hanged when she was 18 for murdering a man whoþd been flirting with his wife.) The story of Cyanþs journey to her arrest is told in luminous prose that evokes the island but is less successful in creating credible characters. Cyanþs mother, Obe, is a study in contradictions: she fled an abusive man before marrying Steel; she burned Cyanþs hand as punishment when a neighbor accused the girl of lying; and when Steel was buried, she took up with other men. Cyan, angry and hurt, both loves and hates her mother. After they quarrel, Obe moves out and, along the way, works for a local doctor and his African- American wife; falls in love with Breeze, a local hustler; and then, deserted by him, begs tourists for money. A brief reunion with Breeze leads to pregnancy and a decision to give her baby to a visiting African-American. When a distraught Cyan changes her mind, though, itþs toolateþthe child is gone. Cyan has no choice but to complete the cycle of destruction that began before she was born. Despite some fine passages, generally overwritten and overwrought.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569471227
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.02 (d)

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