SONG OF NIGHT by Glenville Lovell


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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 —Night,— 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 who—d been flirting with his wife.) The story of Cyan’s journey to her arrest is told in luminous prose that evokes the island but is less successful in creating credible characters. Cyan’s mother, Obe, is a study in contradictions: she fled an abusive man before marrying Steel; she burned Cyan’s 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, it’s too late—the 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.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 1998
ISBN: 1-56947-122-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998


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