A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Powerful stories that explore the legacy of colonialism, and issues of race, immigration, sexual discrimination, and class in the lives of Jamaican women across London, Panama, France, Jamaica, Florida and more
The Islands follows the lives of Jamaican women—immigrants or the
descendants of immigrants—who have relocated all over the world to escape the ghosts of colonialism on what they call the Island. Set in the United States, Jamaica, and Europe, these international stories examine the lives of an uncertain and unsettled cast of characters. In one story, a woman and her husband impulsively leave San Francisco and move to Florida with wild dreams of American reinvention only to unearth the cracks in their marriage. In another, the only Jamaican mother—who is also a touring comedienne—at a prep school feels pressure to volunteer in the school’s International Day. Meanwhile, in a third story, a travel writer finally connects with the mother who once abandoned her.
Set in locations and times ranging from 1950s London to 1960s Panama to modern-day New Jersey, Dionne Irving reveals the intricacies of immigration and assimilation in this debut, establishing a new and unforgettable voice in Caribbean-American literature. Restless, displaced, and disconnected, these characters try to ground themselves—to grow where they find themselves planted—in a world in which the tension between what’s said and unsaid can bend the soul.