A Tall History of Sugar

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"Forbes lets her novel sing with all the languages of Jamaica and Britain. She has an uncanny knack for patois and dialect, including Jamaican English, the Queen's English, and everything in between. In some ways this book tells a story of a love too deep to become romantic. In other ways it's a novel of colonialism and its tragic aftermath of racism and economic despair. But most of all, the book is a journey. The characters so vivid, their depictions so intimate, that the skin of the pages themselves almost pulse beneath the reader's fingers. A powerful journey into the souls of two lovers, two countries, and the people caught in the wakes of empires."
--Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review, selected for the 2019 Fall Preview (Adult Fiction)

"In her immersive modern fairy tale, Forbes unspools an unlikely love story as well as a haunting, hypnotic piece of postcolonial Jamaican history...Arrienne's recount moves in hopscotch fashion, but it's driven forward by her enchanting voice, to which Forbes brings an electric lyricism. Her dialogue beautifully captures the lilt and variety of Jamaican patois...Forbes's ambitious, fantastic tale will appeal to fans of multigenerational sagas."
--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Opening in the late 1950s in Jamaica, ending in the present, and tracing a mysterious love affair, this story follows Moshe Fisher, a man born with a unique skin condition, and his soul mate, Arrienne Christie, who makes it her duty to protect him."
--Publishers Weekly, Fall 2019 Adult Announcements (Literary Fiction)

A Tall History of Sugar was named one of Publishers Weekly's Big Literary Fiction Books of BookExpo 2019

"I'm so impressed by this book! Curdella Forbes weaves a magical, melodic, folkloric tale of characters that I feel I utterly know, that are iconic in personality and description, yet somehow remain mysterious to me, leaving them constantly on my mind. Set in Jamaica, heavy on patois, I felt immersed in the inner world of these two unforgettable characters."
--Rebecca Fitting (co-owner, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY)

"A Tall History of Sugar is captivating from the very first page. Mythic in dimension yet movingly human in its details, alive with atmospheric richness, it heralds a fascinating new voice in English-language fiction."
--Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Manhattan Beach

A Tall History of Sugar tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man who was "born without skin," so that no one is able to tell what race he belongs to; and Arrienne Christie, his quixotic soul mate who makes it her duty in life to protect Moshe from the social and emotional consequences of his strange appearance.

The narrative begins with Moshe's birth in the late 1950s, four years before Jamaica's independence from colonial rule, and ends in the era of what Forbes calls "the fall of empire," the era of Brexit and Donald Trump. The historical trajectory layers but never overwhelms the scintillating love story as the pair fight to establish their own view of loving, against the moral force of the colonial "plantation" and its legacies that continue to affect their lives and the lives of those around them.

Written in lyrical, luminous prose that spans the range of Jamaican Englishes, this remarkable story follows the couple's mysterious love affair from childhood to adulthood, from the haunted environs of rural Jamaica to the city of Kingston, and then to England--another haunted locale in Forbes's rendition.

Following on the footsteps of Marlon James's debut novel, John Crow's Devil, which Akashic Books published in 2005, we are delighted to introduce another lion of Jamaican literature with the publication of A Tall History of Sugar.

Publication Date: 
October 1, 2019