Recommended by our Board member, Fiammetta Rocco: The Caribbean has long been a place that forces us to rethink stories we thought we knew, from The Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhyss’s take on Jane Eyre, to Omeros, Derek Walcott’s epic rewriting of Homer.
The book that has most opened my eyes this year is Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch, a novel that is as much a reimagining of Pygmalion as a riff on the arrival of the disruptive stranger that changes a community beyond all imagining – but more.
Described as a “fishy tale of doomed womanhood”, the Costa Book of the Year in 2020 tells of a mermaid who tries to put the sea behind her and the fisherman who snares her and tries to save her. It’s about music, love, loss, and coming to terms with slavery – and it’s the most erotic novel I’ve read in many years. You can’t say more than that: The Mermaid of Black Conch is a magical miracle.