Ursa Mackenzle is a black woman caught between two cultures - the USA and the Caribbean. Rejecting the lure of success, Ursa turns her back on a well-paid corporate research job and a stable, if loveless, relationship with a black academic. Instead, she seeks power and solace in her friendship with Viney. Remaining true to herself involves returning to Triunion, her Caribbean Island, where she is forced to confront the moral and political ambiguities that underpin the charisma of her father, a leading politician. With compassion and honesty, Paule Marshall shows how the past always intrudes on the present. For Ursa, this means accepting that her life in the United States is bound by events that took place a long time ago in another wing of the black Diaspora.
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Paule Marshall is the author of The Chosen People and Pralsesong for the Widow, among many other novels. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she has taught in Yale, Colombia, Cornell and Oxford Universities.From Kirkus Reviews:
Marshall's first novel since Praisesong for the Widow (1983) spans some 40 years and moves between contemporary New York and the (invented) Caribbean island of Triunion. Its central character, 34-year-old Ursa Mackenzie, lives alone in Manhattan; though she has spent the last 20 years stateside, her roots are in Triunion, and her actions are still shaped by her father's expectations. (Primus Mackenzie, known as the PM, is a towering political figure in Triunion.) As Ursa's best friend Viney points out, the island voices in her head ``keep up such a racket you can't hear you own self.'' Besides the PM, those voices belong to her black American mother, Estelle; Celestine, the Creole servant who's been a second mother for both the PM and Ursa; and to Astral Forde, the PM's ``keep-miss'' (mistress). We get to hear them all in the Triunion segments, which extend back to the PM's 1943 electioneering honeymoon with Estelle. Back in New York Ursa dreams of her long-delayed project (a thesis on Triunion's slave revolt against the British) and frets over her going-nowhere relationship with Lowell Carruthers, a horrendously boring middle- management type. She's starting a new job, studying black empowerment in a New Jersey city, when Estelle summons her to Triunion; Primus, like the black mayor in Jersey, is being co-opted by the white establishment. To save his soul, Ursa surreptitiously engineers the PM's electoral defeat--but is no closer to setting her own course in life. A nonending, then, for a disappointingly flabby novel that also lacks a storyline and fails to fuse its personal and political elements. Marshall's obvious affection for her hurting island warms the heart, but it's not enough. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Serpent's Tail, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1852427787