A Tall History of Sugar
Booklist Reviews 2019 September #1
*Starred Review* Rachel, a childless Jamaican fisherman's wife, discovers a baby in a basket, wrapped in swaddling clothes, whom she names Moshe. Milky white with African features, hair blonde and straight in front and black and kinky in back, Moshe eventually forms a mysterious bond with dark-skinned Arrienne Christie, the "princess" of a prominent family cursed with a fiery birthmark on their bottoms which become inflamed during the sugar cane harvest. The two grow up along with their country as Jamaica struggles toward independence in 1962. Forbes' novel, rich in metaphors and biblical and fairy-tale allusions, explores the cyclical nature of birth and death, and the overwhelming and terrifying power of love. It is also a forceful critique of colonialism, peopled with white Britons lamenting the lost "pearl of the Empire" as Jamaicans are literally poisoned by cane sugar, its principal export. This, too, makes the point: as the fields are burned clear of underbrush, the black soot "floats through windows and doorways, soiling chenille bedspreads and the pristine white of lace doilies artfully strewn on tables." Born to this complicated heritage, Moshe and Arrienne discover their voices in art and social protest as Jamaica grapples with independence and identity. A fascinating post-colonial blend of romance, social history, and myth. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2019 June #3
In her immersive modern fairy tale, Forbes (