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Unburnable

 Finalist,

2007 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award 

**

“…wondrously intelligent…”

--Chimamanda Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus)

**

“Electrifying … a major new voice in fiction.”

--Essence

   
             

Praise for Unburnable

The psychological damage caused by not knowing one's personal history comes center stage in John's alluring debut … a page-turner…with historical fact and fascinating social observations about the politics of class, gender, and race… this layered, compassionate novel is highly recommended.
- Library Journal

Compelling .. The richly told narrative alternates between time periods, building suspense and compassion for all of the characters. … The diversity of the African Diaspora is often overlooked in modern African American literature, and this page-turner fills in some gaps.
- Booklist

Superb. ... John takes the risk of incorporating many themes into a central story of three generations of women--and she succeeds. She touches on almost every aspect of the African Diaspora: colonization, class struggles, immigration, internalized racism, ancestral traditions and religion… draws the reader in, making her a witness to a rich history.
-Black Issues Book Review

John takes readers into Caribbean culture and contemporary black America to explore family and oppression … affecting …  warm, vibrant characters ... Strong writing and interesting supporting characters should keep readers occupied through the end.
- Publishers Weekly



Unburnable
a work of literary fiction that is at once a love story, a murder mystery, a multigenerational epic, and a reinterpretation of Black history – defies neat categorization.  Covering the African Diaspora, this riveting narrative of family, betrayal, vengeance, and murder, follows Lillian Baptiste as she is willed back to her island home of Dominica from Washington, D.C. to finally settle her past. Haunted by scandal and secrets, Lillian left Dominica when she was 14 years old after discovering she was the daughter of Iris, the half-crazy Carib woman; and the granddaughter of Matilda, convicted and hung for murder.  Their infamous lives were told of in chante mas songs sung during Carnival --  songs  about a village on a mountaintop and bones and bodies, about African masquerades and a man who dropped dead. Lillian knows these Carnival songs – thus the history – belongs to her. After 20 years away, she returns to face the demons of her past, and with the help of Teddy, the man she has until now refused to love, she is determined to find her answers. Set partly in contemporary Washington, D.C. and partly in the Caribbean island of Dominica, Unburnable is the dazzling debut of a talented writer who deftly intertwines the African-American experience with authentic Caribbean culture and history – the Caribs, the Maroons, the African origins of Carnival, the practice of Obeah – and in doing so, showcases a new literary voice confident enough to also deliver a page-turner.   

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