UNDER THE SILK COTTON TREE by Jean Buffong

UNDER THE SILK COTTON TREE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Like one of the roads that follows the winding shore of her native Grenada, Buffong's debut meanders through the present and the past as it tells the story of an island girlhood. Grenada is a quiet place ``where nobody running to go anyway...everything just slow and nice...even in the rain season when God decide to wash away Grenada sins, the sun still be hot, hot''--but tragedy and villainy are also as familiar as those foreign places where the ``people are always running.'' Beginning with the long-anticipated wedding of two popular teachers that's interrupted by the loud ``screech'' of Miss Gracelyn, young Flora tells not only her own story but also the stories of her neighbors living near the silk cotton tree--stories that, this being the island, more often than not soon become common property. Flora recalls how her father left the island many years ago and failed to send money back or even to acknowledge the death of his youngest daughter, Janice, the sister Flora continues to mourn. As for ongoing events, a young neighbor is bewitched by a legendary mermaid and nearly drowns; Flora's friend Sheila moves into the house of a renegade Catholic priest who has been seducing the local young women; her beloved grandmother becomes senile and wanders; a woman drowns in a flooded river despite Flora's warning; Flora herself excels at school; and the wedding interrupted by the suddenly ``possessed'' Miss Gracelyn is completed and joyously celebrated--a real ``fete.'' All of this is taking place against a background of strong religious sentiment, local superstition, and a culture shaped as much by its African origins as by the island's own traditions. A wonderfully evocative portrait of growing up on an island where ``news travels faster than African drums,'' and carnival is ``the whole island together doing things.''

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-56656-126-4
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Interlink
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993