Shortlisted for the Dublin International I.M.P.A.C. Award 2000
Summary: It's 1981 and Jean Landing is about to flee her disintegrating homeland, Jamaica, but first, she must bury her sister, Lana, a pop singer in the early days of Reggae. The funeral takes place in the morning; that afternoon, Jean is on her way across the mountains to a rendezvous with a private plane that will take her to the States. Accompanied by her childhood friend, Paul, she drives across her island nation, noting the increasingly violent confrontations between political factions even as she retreats into memories of her own fractured past:
From The True History of Paradise:
Ghosts stand on the foothills of this journey. She smells their woody ancestral breath in the land's familiar crests and undulations. She has heard them all her life, these obstinate spirits, desperate to speak, to revise the broken grammar of their exits. They speak to her, Jean Landing, born in that audient hour before daylight broke on the nation, born into the knowledge of nation and prenation, the old noises of barracks, slave quarters, and steerage mingling in her ears with the newest sounds of self-rule. On verandas, in kitchens, in the old talk, in her waking reveries and anxious dreams, she has heard their stories.
“A heartbreakingly rich, beautiful story whose characters hauntingly embody their country's travail…A very accomplished debut.” Kirkus Review
”This extremely large ambition is signaled by the title: ''The True History of Paradise.'' A tall order for a debut novelist, but Cezair-Thompson writes with such talent, grace and confidence that, from the first pages forward, it's imaginable that she just might pull it off.” New York Times
“Skillfully crafted . . . marvelously evocative . . . conveys a vivid sense of many worlds folded into one.” — The Washington Post Book World
Reprint paperback available July 2009 from Random House. Paperback reprint now available in the UK