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Waiting in Vain: A Novel

Waiting in Vain: A Novel

4.2 21
by Colin Channer

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"I'm a Jamaican. Yardie to de bloodclaat core. I love stout more than wine. I love cricket more than baseball. . . . I love Bob Marley more than Beethoven or Basie. . . . And I think that the fat on a woman batty and hips is sexy thing that they shouldn't try to lose at the gym. . . ."

As the clock nears midnight, a travel-weary man steps out of the New York


"I'm a Jamaican. Yardie to de bloodclaat core. I love stout more than wine. I love cricket more than baseball. . . . I love Bob Marley more than Beethoven or Basie. . . . And I think that the fat on a woman batty and hips is sexy thing that they shouldn't try to lose at the gym. . . ."

As the clock nears midnight, a travel-weary man steps out of the New York subway where Chinatown collides with Soho and TriBeCa. He strides up West Broadway in his tough, scuffed boots past cafés and bars. Then he sees her, and a spark is lit. She walks like a dancer, and trailing behind her in the coltish breeze is a light silk scarf whose flutter he deems
romantic. . . .

Meet Fire--Jamaican born, charming, poetic, and talented--a man who's vowed to never play "love-is-blind" games again. Then he meets Sylvia, a beautiful magazine editor who keeps her passions under lock and key. Together they must choose between the love in their lives and the love of their lives.

Waiting in Vain is a sexy, hypnotic, and beautifully written novel of two souls who meet by chance--then fall hard and fast in a precarious world of hopeful dreamers. With an amazing gift for capturing the subtle Jamaican cadences of his characters' voices, in prose that drips of passion both carnal and pure, Colin Channer immerses us in the fast-paced, often cutthroat art world where sculptors, writers, poets, musicians, gallery owners, and benefactors all reach for success at the expense of themselves and the truth.

From the galleries of Soho to the brownstones of Brooklyn, from the nightclubs of London to the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, Channer takes us on a wild, soul-searching ride as Fire and Sylvia try to connect, disconnect, and reconnect amid conflicting desires and wounds from the past. But through intricate love triangles, skewed priorities, and crushing personal tragedies, Fire, Sylvia, and their friends must learn that some things in life are worth fighting for. If not, you're simply waiting in vain.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Denolyn Carroll
Colin Channer's Waiting in Vain did more than strike a chord with female readers. Channer turned the contemporary fiction genre on its ear by detailing a rich, complex, lushly written love story between the passionate Fire and the equally intense and intelligent Sylvia. Essence
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Representing a figure all too rare in contemporary romance, African American A.J. "Fire" Heath, a sensitive, sophisticated man with a good career, is a major asset to this appealing first novel by short-story writer Channer. Fire's combination of good looks, kindness and brains, and his desire to find the right woman "in the fullness of time," will make him nearly irresistible to readers of commercial fiction. A painter and novelist who has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Fire shuttles between his native Jamaica, London and New York. In a chance encounter on a Brooklyn street, Fire meets Sylvia, another transplanted Jamaican, who is disappointed with her magazine-editing job and her art-dealer lover. Fire and Sylvia pursue and retreat from each other in convincingly soul-searching scenarios while Channer vividly describes urban New York, industrial Brixton and rural Jamaica. Channer has a fine ear for Jamaican patois (and for when it bubbles up in otherwise American-accented conversations). Also to his credit, Channer largely resists the trendy name-dropping and product placements so common in this genre. Subplots of intrigue in the African American art world add substance without detracting from the pace. As readers in the know will recognize, this tale of continent-hopping romance takes its title from a Bob Marley song. Author tour. (July)
Library Journal
Jamaican author and poet Adrian Heath, a.k.a. Fire, has a "love at first sight" experience when he sees a woman with daisy buttons having trouble with her packages in New York. They flirt, thinking they will never meet again, but later end up at the house of a mutual friend, an artist named Ian. Sylvia is involved with another man, which breaks Fire's heart and sends him back to London. But neither of them can let their attraction end, and later they have a dangerous affair. Ian's love-hate relationships with Fire, his mother, and women in general become the catalyst for the rest of the story. First novelist Channer reveals his characters' idiosyncrasies in poetic description. The dialog, full of Jamaican slang, takes a little getting used to, but the culture and backdrop are so finely scripted that readers will feel they are in Jamaica. Sensuous and sometimes outrageous love scenes interspersed with the stirring emotions of the characters keep the pages turning to the very end. Fans of romance and psychological drama will enjoy this passionate and honest story; highly recommended.--Shirley Gibson Coleman, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
From the Publisher
"A stunning debut . . . If you've ever dared to follow your passion, then you must read Waiting in Vain."
--E. Lynn Harris

--Diane McKinney-Whetstone
   Author of the national bestsellers
   Tumbling and Tempest Rising

--Time Out New York

--New York Daily News

--Library Journal

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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On the day he met Sylvia, Fire woke up in Blanche's arms with a numbness in his soul. It was his ninetieth day of celibacy, and the night before had almost been his last, for Blanche had tied his wrists in his sleep and mounted him.

He wanted to talk to her but didn't know how. Couldn't decide how to do it without losing his temper or his pride. He searched the room for answers--the arched windows . . . the rattan chairs . . . the hardwood floors with the swirling grain . . .

The mattress stirred. He heard the strike of her match. Felt the heat. And the tidal pull of her lips. She was naked, and the urgency of smoking did not disturb her breasts, hard and still like turtles.

A lizard crawled from the windowsill to the peak of the angled ceiling and slid down the pole of the old brass fan whose blades were sheathed in straw. It flicked its tongue and wagged its head, shook loose a fold of skin and puffed a red balloon.

Fire watched it closely, enchanted by its beauty; Blanche sucked her teeth and said it was a nuisance. He didn't answer, and she began to taunt it, choking it with rings of smoke till it arched its back and sprang. It fell on her belly with a thwack and did a war dance on her birthmark, a swatch of brown below her navel. She watched it for a while, amused by its bravery, then whipped her body sideways, shimmering the flesh on her hips, and spilled the lizard to the floor.

Fire closed his eyes.

Last night he'd dreamed that they'd wallowed in a muddy ditch in a sunflower field. Her belly was wet with almond oil and her nipples were gummed with molasses. A believer in fate and the wisdom of dreams, he'd been dreaming of molasses for months now. Blanche was not the woman, though. He was sure. And denial was a way of preparing for her . . . whoever she might be.

Blanche watched as he rose, snatched glances as he dressed. He was tall and rangy. His hair was a cluster of twists and curls. His body looked like a pencil sketch, proportioned but not detailed, except in the chest and upper back.

He went to the terrace and sat in a rocker beneath a brace of ferns, which rustled and fluttered like moody hens. The land cruised away below him, drained through an orchard to an old stone fence, then plunged in an avalanche of crabgrass and buttercups to a terraced farm. Beyond the valley, surreal through the mist, was the broad, flat face of Kingston.

He took a mango from a bowl and peeled it with his teeth. What would he say to her? How would he say it? She was singing in the shower now. He imagined her body--the swell of her thighs, the rise of her ass. And, of course, her breasts. When would he say it? Soon, he thought . . . but not right now.

Resting the fruit on a stack of books, he picked up the poem he'd begun the day before.

I dare not love you as you deserve.

It is not that I don't know how.

I do understand the language of love,

and were it a different world

I would write you poems etching you

into the tender cliche of Negril's palmy coast . . .

He didn't know where he'd take it. He didn't understand poetry really. He'd never studied it. He believed in it as an act of faith.

Bird. He began to think of Ian now. They used to call him Bird for his hawkish nose and pelican legs. What will it be like to see him again? He checked his watch. It was eleven. Air Jamaica was leaving at three; they were always on time. He would be in New York at seven.

Blanche came out and joined him. She was wearing one of his shirts. It was a soft tangerine with a broad camp collar and flaps on the pleated pockets. A few months short of fifty, she moved with the angular vim of a teenager. She leaned against the banister, a Rothman's between her lips.

Age had refined her beauty, streaking her hair silver and adding lines and accents to the poetry of her face--commas that made him pause at her eyes, dashes that framed her mouth. She had brows like Frida Kahlo, and lips like Chaka Khan.

"New York," she began. "How long are you going to be there?"

"Just the weekend," he said.

"Then you go to London. And you're coming back when?"

"The end o' August."

"Three months."

As she watched him pick up the mango, she marveled anew at his face. Like reggae, it was a New World hybrid, a genetic melange of bloods that carried in their DNA memories of the tribes that fought and fucked on the shores of the Americas--Chinese and Arab, English and Scotch from his father's side; Dutch and Portuguese Sephardic Jew from his mother's. But the final combination--brown like sun-fired clay; cheeks high and spread apart; nose narrow with a rounded tip; lips wide and fluted--was a vibrant African presence, Yoruba and Akan.

Last night was wrong, she said to herself. But she'd been holding back for months
now . . . had even thought she would get through it. But last night, knowing
he'd be leaving today just made her desperate. Or was it angry? Three months
is a long time for a woman, she thought, especially with a man like this, one who makes love from the inside out--from the core of her soul where she hides her fears, to the taut muscles on the back of her neck. And the way he was eating that mango--the flesh becoming slush and dripping down his arm.

The juice was inking the nib between her legs, making her want to draft an epic on his face. Couldn't he just screw her? She'd take just that. So what if the love was gone? The first time had been just a screw. And she had no regrets. Seeing him nude that first time had made her think of holidays, of turkey legs slathered with gravy. At first she thought he'd be a rammer, a longhorn bedroom bully, which would've been fine. She liked a little roughness at times. But he held her like a dancer, assumed that he would lead, and frigged her with finesse. He understood her needs. Wordplay for him was foreplay. Her thighs were the covers of an open book--a journal lined with fantasies and fears. He read her like a child read, slowly, with his nose against the page, using a finger to guide his way. So he knew when to baby her and when to bitch her up.

If he didn't want to screw her, she thought, couldn't they just flirt? Flirting was more than his pastime. It was an addiction. He couldn't help himself. He was intelligent and amusing, which was why women fell for him. That's why she had fallen. In the days when he loved her, his wordskissed her ears like butterfly wings. Now they stung like wasps: "I don't want you anymore. Leave me alone. I don't care how you feel."

She forced a smile. He didn't respond, but she knew he wanted her. She could feel it. What to do? What to say? She wanted to be the mango so he could suck her down to the seed.

"Kiss me."

The words were hers. He tried to resist. Thought he had, until his tongue was a honey stick in hot tea. Soon he was melting into memory . . . into their first kiss ten years ago in Cuba.

She was standing on a street corner in Old Havana, a map in her hand, using her own brand of filleted Spanish to explain to a group of curious onlookers that the Yanquis didn't hate them, that the Yanquis in fact pitied them and really hated the French, whom they found repugnant and smug. She didn't know how to say "smug" in Spanish.

"Apuesto," he said from the back, "pulcro." Their eyes met.

"Excuse me," she said, as the crowd trailed away, "do you speak English?"

"No," he replied. "Do you?" She was wearing a lavender dress and sandals. He was wearing an Exodus T-shirt and Red Army boots. He liked her voice. She spoke with a flourish, as if her words were meant to be drawn in calligraphy.

They drifted into a walk, cruised the cobblestoned streets, brushed against each other as they passed under arbors of billowing clothes. She took photographs of the crumbling houses . . . posed on the hoods of vintage cars. It was her first visit to Cuba, she told him. She was forty, and taught English and Near Eastern studies at Columbia. Her father was Jamaican, her mother from Iran. She'd been raised outside Toronto.

They had lunch in a paladar. Over gallina vieja and yellow rice she learned that he'd been living in Cuba for three years, had gone there to study with the famous muralist Francisco Irtubbe after receiving a fine arts degree at Yale. He was twenty-four and Jamaican, and his favorite uncle, I-nelik, had toured and recorded with the Wailers.

She asked if he was a communist and he told her no. Said he was a socialist. Then they began to talk about art and she said there wasn't any money in murals. Money isn't all, he replied. What is? she asked. Love, he said. . . . All you need is love. She said that was a crock of shit. He liked her directness. It was hard to find that in women his own age.

He offered her a drink when they left the restaurant. She looked at him . . . cocked her head . . . seemed unsure. He smiled, as I-nelik had taught him, and led her home without discussion.

They sipped mojitos in the courtyard, a moldering square of tiles around an almond tree, and shared a macanudo (cigar) and talked and listened and argued, entangling their minds in a wrestling match which she won with ease, for she was wiser and more wordly. She'd lived in five countries, including Morocco and India, and spoke Arabic, Farsi, French, and Hindi.

They went inside when the night brought rain. Setting cans to catch the leaks in the parlor, they talked some more, leaning against each other on the swaybacked sofa with their feet propped up on a milk crate.

At some point--he could never remember when, because it had been so unexpected--she'd pointed to the record changer, a hefty old thing from Albania, and asked if he had any jazz. The questions felt like a test, a requirement for entry to her finishing school. He knew this by the way she smiled when he asked her, like a bartender at a good hotel, "What can I get for you?" She smiled from the inside, happy for the both of them.

They listened to Johnny Hartman, giggled each time the record changer fell asleep. Then he put on the Wailers--Kaya--and the bass began to lick them like a curious tongue . . . and nothing was funny anymore.

"Would you like to dance?" he asked. She said yes, and he held her by the waist, which was soft even then, and sank his hips into the sweet spot. She shook when he started to stir it up, then answered his circumlocutions with inquiries of her own. They continued to dub after the last track had faded like the paint on the wall she was against. Her legs were apart. Her dress hiked up. Her body clammy with their mingled sweat. What to do? They weren't quite sure. Then there was a power cut, and it was inevitable.

"What are you thinking?" she asked.

"That I want you to stay the night."

She slipped a hand down his thigh. "Why?"

"I want to see you naked."

She coaxed his hand into the pulpy split. "See me through your fingers," she said. "Let's pretend to be blind."

"I want to see you," he replied, "to keep a piece of you with me forever. We might have the night and lose the day."

"But I only need today," she whispered.

"But I need tomorrow . . . I'm just that kinda guy. Share a little tomorrow with me."

She kissed him.

"Before I say yes," she said, "I should tell you something. I am woman . . . I am water. You are man . . . you are stone. Water will wear down stone."

They stayed in touch through letters. Phone calls sometimes. But those were harder, requiring a connection through a third country. Then she came to visit three months after leaving and he began to smell molasses. One night, as they biked along the MalecÃ?n, she asked if he was dating. She hopped off the handlebars and they sat with their backs to the sea. He told the truth.

"You must get rid of them," she said. "I love you too much to share you."

"And you," he asked, "are you involved?"

"The very question," she replied, "insults me."

They wrote once a week for the next two years--soppy letters that made them laugh--and saw each other twice, each time for three months during her summer break. He wanted to see her more, but couldn't. He was routinely denied U.S. entry because he was labeled a communist.

Then twenty-six months, three weeks, and two days after they met, he got a three-day visa through luck and bribery, and went to New York to surprise her. He found out she was married--with a mortgage, a dog, and three children."I'm so sorry," she said, as they cried in her office. "Just give me time . . . I'm just waiting for the right time to leave."

"When will that be?"

"Soon," she said.

"Soon as things are right . . . it's all in the timing."


Chinatown collides with Soho and Tribeca at Canal and West Broadway, chucking chichi bistros against hardware stores, stereo shops, and purveyors of fake Chanel. As the clock closed in on midnight, Fire stepped out of the subway and strayed through the gates of love. Dressed in a red T-shirt and slack-fitting jeans, he forded the truck-polluted stream of Canal and strode up West Broadway in his tough, scuffed boots, past cafes and bars whose faces were pressed together like a Polaroid of friends from prep school. His destination was the Marie Rose Galleries, where his friend Ian Gore was having his first show in five years. By the note in his pocket, the opening had been over for two hours. But this didn't bother him. After twenty-five years, Ian was used to his lateness, and Fire understood Ian's mood swings.

I wonder how he looks, he thought, as a doorway caught his eye. For all its pretensions, he liked Soho. The brickwork reminded him of London and the ironwork reminded him of older parts of Kingston. He liked the scale of it. It was low. One could see the sky without trying.

As he walked along Spring Street, contemplating Ian's life, he saw a woman walking toward him in a navy blazer with buttons shaped like sunflowers.

She was tallish and slender, with short, curly hair. And like a dancer, she walked with her toes pointed outward and her neck loose.

Trailing behind her in the coltish breeze was a light silk scarf whose flutter he thought was romantic. As she passed, he turned around and sent her a smile, an unsigned thank-you card for having a nice vibe.

He hadn't been to New York in a couple of years. And at Greene it struck him that the gallery had moved. Ian had forgotten to remind him.

He saw a phone up the block by a parking lot, across from a store named Jekyll & Hyde. He called Information for the new address. But what if they were closed? He glanced at his watch and decided to call, and as he angled to dig for pocket change, he saw the woman in the navy blazer waiting for the phone.

She had lashes like the bristles of a paintbrush and strong, rougeless cheeks.

"Are you through?" she asked. Her voice was warm but girlish--honey mixed with ashes.

"No," he replied. "But you can go if you want."She accepted politely. A smile hissed across her face--a sparked fuse.

His mouth was suddenly dry. He felt an urge to wet his lips. He didn't, though, unsure of how she'd take it.

She struggled with a shopping bag.

"You want me to hold that?"

She refused politely. Then it slipped. And he grabbed it.

"Are you sure?"

"It's okay," she said. "Thank you." And placed the bag between her feet.

A piece of paper fell to the sidewalk. From where, he wasn't sure. He picked it up and read it as he leaned against a car. It was a shopping list for music: Toni Braxton, Babyface, and Gal Costa. Gal Costa? Tropicalismo . . . nice.

She was his age, he figured, and worked in the arts. Not music though. She would've been more determinedly stylish. Not fashion either--her taste would've had more edge. Design? Maybe. She could be an art director. But for a big firm. Not a boutique. Now where was she from? Her accent was American, but not from New York. The midwest maybe, or California. California? Hollywood. She had the trained articulation of an actress.

In the middle of his reverie she grabbed her bag and left, and he walked to the corner, warmed by the encounter. Gal Costa. He thought of Brazil, its pungent food and sensuous music, and turned to smile again. To his surprise she was smiling after him.

"Was that your smile or the reflection of mine?" he asked, slowing down. She was about ten yards away.

She shrugged her shoulders to mean "whatever."

"I hope it was the reflection of mine," he said. "I wouldn't like you to smile at me like that before you get to know me. When you get to know me I'll know what it means. Right now I might have the wrong idea."

She shrugged again.

"If I asked you your name, would you tell me?"


"I promise not to laugh if it's ugly. I'll just refuse to use it."

She looked at him blankly.

"Go ahead," he said. "Try me."


He took her coolness as a challenge . . . vowed to make her laugh.

"Try-y-y meeee!" he sang, mimicking James Brown. "You know that song?"


"Oh, you like Bob Marley?"

"That's not Bob Marley," she said. "That's James Brown."

"I knew that," he said, steadying her eyes with a stare. "Just checking."

"Checking what?"

"To see if you're truly monosyllabic or just faking it."

She chuckled, which encouraged him.

"Will you tell me your name now?"


Her answer did not convince him.

"Well, I won't ask you then. I'll just make one up for you. I'll just call you the woman-with-the-unique-buttons-on-the-navy-blazer-with-the-cute-nose-with-something-hanging-from-it."

She wiped her nose quickly.

"That one got you!"

She laughed.

"Well, I guess I'm not doing so badly."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I got you to laugh."

"Maybe I'm easy," she countered.

He caught a flash of tongue, a bit of pink against her teeth. He liked her more now. She knew dalliance from harassment. Many women had lost that, had sacrificed good sense for politics.

"By the way," he said, trying to reconnect, "can I call you to tell you I'd like to see you again?"

"Sure," she said matter-of-factly.

"Who should I ask for?"

"The-woman-with-the-man-she-doesn't-miss. People are waiting for me. I've gotta go."

She began to back away. He asked for her number again and she told him no.

"It was nice to have met you, Miss No Name."

"It was nice to have met you too, Muddy Waters."

He stopped. She stopped as well. A passing car side-lit her face. She was a portrait framed by Gordon Parks.

"It would be nice to see you again."

"I don't feel the same way."


She glanced at his shoes. "I could fall for a man like you."

"What kinda man is that?"

"One who makes me laugh."

Claire was having a smoke outside the gallery when Fire and Ian arrived.

She started toward them, and her form swung loosely in an A-line dress that draped from a collar of beads. Her skin was black like a seasoned wok, and her dreads were long and crinkled. She was French, from Martinique.

"How are you?" Fire said as he hugged her. Her body had the heft of an upright bass.

"You were right about him, y'know?" Ian said. "The fucker always late but him always show."

Fire stamped kisses on her cheeks.

This is the way it should be, Fire thought, as he remembered Lisbon. The villa they shared in the Alfama and light in the afternoon. Ambition mattered more than fame then . . . and friendship more than money. Fame

and money. Ian had come to New York to find them. Mine them, he'd said. But after he found the mother lode the shaft caved in and trapped him.

"I love the both of you," Ian said as he joined their hug. "It should always be this way."

Fire looked at Claire and raised his brows. They were more than Ian's friends. They were mother and father and brother and sister, nurse, teacher, counselor--specialists in seeing and satisfying his needs.

Headlights lurched around the bend.

"Oh, fuck," Ian said. "It's Lewis."

"The prick?" Claire asked with a chuckle.

"He's too fake to be a prick. The man is a fucking dildo. Send him home, nuh Claire. Is your gallery."

She made a funny face at Fire and rubbed Ian's neck.

"So who's Lewis?" Fire asked as the lights grew brighter.

"A collector," Claire said through the crook of a smile. "He's got some money. He's my best client. He made his first million in college--exporting skin-fading to Nigeria. Then he made even more money on Wall Street doing whatever people do. Then he left that a coupla years ago and started this company that does something with inner-city housing . . . some nonprofit development thing . . . I don't know. What I do know, and I guess what I really care about, is that he buys a lot of Ian's work." She turned to Ian. "So you better behave."

Lewis pulled up in a black Range Rover. At first Fire thought he knew him, but soon realized his error. He looked like a model he'd seen in an ad for Duke hairdressing cream.

"Hey guys," Lewis called. "How are you?" His voice was warm and measured. Ian sucked his teeth. Claire said a bright hello. Fire nodded politely. "I'll be right back. I'm gonna put this in a lot." The engine revved. The big wheels turned. The rear lights faded to black.

"I don't know wha Sylvia see in dat pussy."

Claire rubbed his back. "Love is blind, Ian."

"You see love when you see them?"

She glanced at Fire. "That's not my business."

Ian shrugged his shoulders and went inside.

Fire was curious now. "Why Ian don't like him?"

"Who does Ian like? But in all fairness Lewis is an asshole. He's very condescending. Sylvia and Ian have gotten tight, and I think Lewis feelsthreatened by that. And Ian doesn't think that Sylvia should be with Lewis. He thinks she's settling. But who cares?"

"So who is this Sylvia?"

"Nice girl. You'll meet her soon. She's a frustrated writer who's been working on a novel for the last six years. She's a magazine editor at Umbra. She's good people, and a really good poet. She's published two collections." She peered at a figure in the distance. It wasn't who she thought it was. "Ian has a point though. She and Lewis are kinda different."

Claire suggested dominoes. But before she could retrieve her set the doorbell rang.

"Are you hungry?" she asked before leaving to answer it.

He said yes and she told him there was food in the kitchen, and directed him to follow her.

He straightened up, and turned around. Standing before him with one arm along the door frame and the other weighed down by a shopping bag was the woman in the navy blazer, backlit from the hall, her skin shining like an almond glaze, her lips trembling like beds of earth about to burst with seed.

"I'm sorry," she said. "This is so embarrassing. I didn't expect to see you of all people here. . . and I. . . and I'm. . . I'm. . .

"You are. . .?"

She leaned backward through the doorway and glanced left and right.

"Sylvia," she said, her brows furrowed deeply. "Sylvia Lucas."

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are Saying About This

Diane McKinney-Whetstone
Diane McKinney-Whetstone, author of the national bestsellers Tumbling and Tempest Rising
A wonderful debut! Waiting in Vain is a lavish and lush read filled with spice and passion.
E. Lynn Harris
A stunning debut…If you've ever dared to follow your passion, then you must read Waiting in Vain.
Kimberly A. Smith
Channer has done for the modern literary world what Stevie Wonder has done to modern music....Colin is a true innovator of his time. Unlike many contemporary authors of today, Colin trusts his audience and believes we are mature enough to follow his beautifully spun story without the help of any spoon-fed information. He is able to blend humor, romance, mystery, suspense, geography and history with ease. I have not come across another author with such an authoritative use of force and kindness with words. If this phenomenal project is his introduction to the literary world we ALL should be waiting with bated breath for his sophomore claim to fame!!!!

Meet the Author

A freelance copywriter and editor, Colin Channer has had his work published in Essence, Millimeter, Ebony Man, Black Enterprise, and Billboard on subjects ranging from popular music to economics and media technology. He is the author of the short stories "The Ballad of the Sad Chanteuse  and "Black Boy, Brown Girl, Brownstones,  included in the anthology Soulfires: Young Black Men on Love and Violence. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Waiting in Vain 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best I've ever read. I not only enjoyed it, but I felt it. This book had a mood to it. The characters had umph to them. Colin Channer has a new, appreciative reader.
goldenqueenreader More than 1 year ago
This book was very creative and this author opened my eyes to a whole new life. After reading Waiting in Vain I feel as though I know more about island life or more specifically Jamaican life. If I had a say, the man in the glasses on the cover would be the whole cover and not just because he looks awesome but because it reflects more of the story. In this lovely novel the author shows you how a wealthy Jamaican writer/artist named Fire, struggles with relationships with unavailable women. Its a love story but its much more with topics of class, race, family and drugs. In the beginning the story starts with Fire and Blanche a married woman who he has on and off sexual relationship. Fire wants a change and he goes to New York. In New York Fire hooks up with his childhood friend and a fellow artist Ian. Ian's is of the Islands as well and lives in usa strung out on drugs. Fire and Ian discuss there lives and their struggles with women. In New York is where you get swept off your feet by Fire and his dialog with Silvia. The whole relationship between Fire and Silvia is amazing and the author makes you want Fire that much more. Waiting in Vain also contains 2 side stories Ian and Margret. The reader is introduced to many characters and a different dialect and at times its a little confusing. The author also tends to switch point of views in the middle of a paragraph and it tends to cause motion sickness but I dont hold these things against the author because his story is beautifully expressed that i wouldn't mind reading it again. And I will look for more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I have kept a copy of this book on my shelf for a very long time. It is a wonderful re-read every now and then. It is my favorite book in this genre. Mr. Channer is not as well know as Eric Dickey or Teri Mcmillian but, his writting sytle is so romantic and spiritual. His characters are realistic and his story is multi-fauceted. There is anger, love, pain, heartache, and lust. He delves into the pysche of his characters and I love the fact that although this is a love story there is so much more. The steamy island setting is also very nice. If you are looking to loose yourself in a wonderfully written story of love, pain and the very soul of those who participate in these activites then read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where Bob Marley expresses with music, Colin Channer does with words. An excellent combination.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to get into this book (it's been on my bookshelf for 4 yrs). In the beginning it was a slow read for me, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. It was love story, not the soppy, make believe-can't be believed type. I'm not sure where/why Ian fit into the picture, but aside from him, the story was great. The character did develope - perhaps they could have developed a bit more, but for a 1st work, this was really a good book. To look at love from a male perspective was so very interesting - it made me fall in love with my husband all over again. Sylvia had to 'grow' - don't we all, at some time? It has me waiting for a sequel.. Good going Colin and I'll be at BN this weekend trying to find your other books..
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read ' Got to be Real' and I fell in love with Channers romantic and lush style. So when I read 'Waiting in Vain' I was swept up and I was totally disappointed when I finished the book. If you have never been to Jamaica and experienced the sights ,smells and nuances of this complex island this book is a love letter that will introduce Jamaica to your senses. Its a beauty
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderfully well written. I fell in love with Fire, now I know what a real man is suppose to be. Colin Channer took me on a vivid journey in to new territory.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are parts here that don't add up... the part where Fire and Sylvia are waiting for a cab. How does Fire go from wearing a shoe to a barefoot on her leg?......not a good read for true romance readers. Quite a few of our book club members agree.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't put this book down. I highly recommend it. The characters are real. Similar to characters in In-Law Drama.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I miss him. Quite a strange way to begin a review, and yet it seems very approrpiate. To say that I have been touched by Fire would be an understatement. Having completed Waiting in Vain has left me with a void to fill. A.J.Heath has proven to be a protagonist to be set in a class by himself. Fire encompasses a perfect man, despite his shortcomings. He leaves one with the hope that such a man walks th earth and that waiting will not be in vain. In this book, each character is developed completely as you, the reader, are allowed to see their thoughts, dreams, and fears. They become real, true-to-life individuals. Finally the richness and beauty of the language adds to the charm and mystic that held me in rapture page after page. Though the description of Jamaica was sometimes difficult to follow, having never visited the island, it has provided me with a strong desire to do so. To walk in Fire's shoes, smell the air he breathed, take in the sights his eyes held. Colin is perhaps the best advertisement the island never knew it had.
Guest More than 1 year ago
book is one of the best I have read and I made the mistake of loaning to a relative now I must purchase it for a second time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this book last year and it was sitting on my shelf. This week I have started reading the book on the bus and at work and I have found it too hard to put down. Fire first meets Sylvia in New York only to discover that she is engaged to an arrogant well-to-do black man. Yet he is drawn to this woman and wants to know more about her. Sylvia is an editor for a black women's magazine and is unhappy about her current position and would like to do more with her life. She meets fire who has done very well for himself without the comforts of material wealth. She yearns for the passion Fire has that her boyfriend can't give her. They both know that they are meant to be together body, mind and soul. I haven't finished reading the book but I am already drawn to the literary style that Colin Channer writes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Colin has captured the essence of love with high energy of sexuality. My favorite quote is 'Is that your smile or my reflection' That is truly the melting pot of my heart said by any man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm really into Carib. fiction writers now and Colin Channer is at the top of the list. The vibe between Sylvia and Fire can be felt the moment he laid eyes on those daisy buttons and that dancers walk. Channer gives great visuals that engulf the reader... It left me wanting more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Jamaican novel and it was excellent I laughed,cried,and had a great time relaxing w/this sexy read I'd recommend Colin Channer to all novel readers who love black love stories w/a little spice!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am late in writing this review of Colin Channer's novel Waiting in Vain, but I have to say I really didn't know what to write until I read it a second time. Channer's novel is one of victory and the erotique. This author takes his readers through the lives of the novel's characters and allows us to see life through the words he gives them. It is a must read for those of us who appreciate love, struggle, romance, and strong writing. I look forward to his next novel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Fire and Sylvia are people we all know! True love is a wonderful thing and really directs our lives! Channer does a wonderful job creating realistic characters!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The main theme of Colin Channers' book is love. While this subject is in no way unique, Colin's writing style is uniquely poetic and erotic. The main character, Fire, a successful writer, operates on a different level. Fire is as close to perfection as any woman would want her man to be. Fire really cares - he cares for Blanche, his mentor and ex-lover who he has stood by for ten years; he cares for Sylvia, his soulmate and perfect woman with her accompanying emotional baggage. He cares for Ian, fellow artist, friend and the closest person he has to a brother, even when Ian travels down the path of self-destruction. Colin's writing style is one that is easy to read. However, there is depth in his writing that makes this a MUST READ novel for those of us coming from the Caribbean. His way of moving dialogue between English, Jamiacan English and patois should be applauded. I strongly recommend this book to you. I am awaiting Colin's next novel with bated breath - another Bob Marley song title, I hope.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Waiting In Vain' captivates the reader from start to finish. Colin's writing infuses the readers with such passion, that they feel as if they are there feeling every emotion and witnessing every place. His unique sense of writing is phenomenal. It leaves the readers yearning for more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was only an okay novel for me. It became difficult to read at times because he would go back and forth with the dialect, making it difficult to understand. The details were strung out in certain places. If it had been more concise, the novel would have been a lot better. The story line was good, making me want to finish the book. It gets the best at the end.