Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature

Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature

by Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley
     
 

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In Thiefing Sugar, Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley explores the poetry and prose of Caribbean women writers, revealing in their imagery a rich tradition of erotic relations between women. She takes the book's title from Dionne Brand's novel In Another Place, Not Here, where eroticism between women is likened to the sweet and subversive act of cane cutters stealing sugar.

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Overview

In Thiefing Sugar, Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley explores the poetry and prose of Caribbean women writers, revealing in their imagery a rich tradition of erotic relations between women. She takes the book's title from Dionne Brand's novel In Another Place, Not Here, where eroticism between women is likened to the sweet and subversive act of cane cutters stealing sugar. The natural world is repeatedly reclaimed and reinterpreted to express love between women in the poetry and prose that Tinsley analyzes. She not only recuperates stories of Caribbean women loving women, stories that have been ignored or passed over by postcolonial and queer scholarship until now, she also shows how those erotic relations and their literary evocations form a poetics and politics of decolonization. Tinsley's interpretations of twentieth-century literature by Dutch-, English-, and French-speaking women from the Caribbean take into account colonialism, migration, labor history, violence, and revolutionary politics. Throughout Thiefing Sugar, Tinsley connects her readings to contemporary matters such as neoimperialism and international LGBT and human-rights discourses. She explains too how the texts that she examines intervene in black feminist, queer, and postcolonial studies, particularly when she highlights the cultural limitations of the metaphors that dominate queer theory in North America and Europe, including those of the closet and "coming out."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Luscious, abundant and rich—those are apt words for Thiefing Sugar, this captivating and lyrical exploration of what it meant in the twentieth century to be a Caribbean woman who loves women. Based on a well-chosen corpus of texts and lucid, in-depth analyses, the book is altogether a feast for the senses, a gift to us all!”—Gloria Wekker, Utrecht University, Netherlands

“Through writing that is as lyrical as the poetry and fiction she analyzes, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley makes connections between sugar production in the Caribbean, the paradoxical ‘ungendering’ of black female slaves that makes their sexual self-hood possible, and the landscape of the ‘Global South’ to argue that the history of the black woman’s body in the African Diaspora is shrouded not just in metaphor but in the materiality of their own world-making.”—E. Patrick Johnson, author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity

Bulletin of Latin American Research - Gloria Gonzalez Lopez
Thiefing Sugar by Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley is a beautifully written, refreshing and innovative book. Tinsley examines the sophisticated ways in which gender and sexuality have historically and culturally articulated unique and revealing expressions of love and sex between women in the Caribbean region of the Americas.”
Journal of Lesbian Studies - Olivia Donaldson
Thiefing Sugar certainly deserves praise for giving voice to so many women and issues that have long remained silenced in each of these respective fields. Moreover, Tinsley’s manner of conversing with women, her mirroring of their poetics, underscores how she is a woman who loves women, a woman committed to mapping ‘imaginative imagination’ that decolonizes theory and ‘hegemonic definitions of same-sex desire.’”
Caribbean Review of Books - Ronald Cummings
Thiefing Sugar is full of deliciously rich metaphors. . . . In this highly engaging and insightful book, Tinsley discusses the foremost tropes and metaphors in Caribbean women’s writing about desire between women. The syrup of language to be enjoyed here is not only that which abounds in the texts she discusses, but also in the suggestiveness of Tinsley’s own writing, which is sometimes dense but always rich and allusive.”
GLQ - Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
“Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley’s book is a brilliant, highly readable, and at times dense foundational study on twentieth-century Caribbean and diasporic women’s literary conceptualizations of living and loving in the Caribbean, specifically in Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Suriname, and Trinidad.”
Choice - S. E. Cooper
“This is an important book for anyone interested in the Caribbean, the African diaspora, women and gender, or LGBTQ culture and literature. . . . . What stands out more than anything else is the overwhelming evidence Tinsley offers of a long history of Caribbean women's stated desire for other women, of (mostly) working-class black female eroticism that is intrinsically tied to rebellion against oppression by the dominant white-identified, colonialist, masculine, land-owning, and hetero-normative ruling class. This is a subversive, lyrical piece of scholarship. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.”
Palimpsest - Tarik A. Smith
“Tinsely’s fascinating study is noteworthy for its originality in scope and its depth. The author deftly demonstrates that the secret of Caribbean lesbian writing — visible and invisible, white and of color, Francophone and Anglophone —is determined by constantly unfolding spaces that are impossible to define by the canonical -colonial tropes of the past.”
MLQ - Vinay Swamy
A remarkable book that delights in sounding out the depths of the texts that it foregrounds, Thiefing Sugaris an elegant analysis of (potentially ambiguous) eroticism between women in the Caribbean. . . . [H]er contribution to and intervention in postcolonial and queer studies are most welcome.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822347774
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
08/18/2010
Series:
Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,086,447
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Minnesota.

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