Join us for a book launch of The Islands: Stories by Dionne Irving.
The Islands follows the lives of Jamaican women—immigrants or the descendants of immigrants—who have relocated all over the world to escape the ghosts of colonialism on what they call the Island. Set in the United States, Jamaica, and Europe, these international stories examine the lives of an uncertain and unsettled cast of characters. In one story, a woman and her husband impulsively leave San Francisco and move to Florida with wild dreams of American reinvention only to unearth the cracks in their marriage. In another, the only Jamaican mother—who is also a touring comedienne—at a prep school feels pressure to volunteer in the school's International Day. Meanwhile, in a third story, a travel writer finally connects with the mother who once abandoned her.
Set in locations and times ranging from 1950s London to 1960s Panama to modern-day New Jersey, Dionne Irving reveals the intricacies of immigration and assimilation in this debut, establishing a new and unforgettable voice in Caribbean-American literature. Restless, displaced, and disconnected, these characters try to ground themselves—to grow where they find themselves planted—in a world in which the tension between what's said and unsaid can bend the soul.
PRAISE FOR THE ISLANDS
A Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year
“[A] penetrating collection . . . In lucid prose, Irving depicts her characters’ chilly shocks over unexpected gaps in intimacy with their loved ones as they work to fit into non-immigrant Black spaces, making for stories that are both class-conscious and richly atmospheric. Irving’s inviting combination of subjects and style heralds a welcome new voice.” —Publishers Weekly
“Dionne Irving’s groundbreaking debut collection is as insightful as it is unflinching. At times humorous and at times heartbreaking, The Islands illuminates the complex history and current condition of the far-flung Jamaican diaspora, bringing it to the page as it’s never before been seen. Cultures collide between and within households, between and within characters, making for compelling stories about identity and belonging. An unforgettable read and a balm for anyone still searching for home.” —Jonathon Escoffery, author of If I Survive You
“The stories in The Islands are darkly comic, raw, and boldly propulsive. Irving is attentive to the inner landscapes of the women who leave the Island in search of a place where they can be distinctly themselves, unmediated by the legacies of colonialism. The Islands is a radiant, at times surreal, and complex meditation on identity and the tragic absurdity of the search for home.” —Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, author of Savage Tongues
“By turns mordant and poignant, Dionne Irving’s The Islands is a deeply moving exploration of diaspora. Her dazzling cast of characters search for home and belonging. Incisive and impressive.” —Vanessa Hua, author of Forbidden City
Dionne Irving is originally from Toronto, Ontario. Her novel Quint is available now from 7.13 Books and a short story collection The Islands is forthcoming from Catapult Books in 2022. Her work has appeared in Story, Boulevard, LitHub, Missouri Review, and New Delta Review, among other journals and magazines. She earned her Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University. She has also received fellowships from the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation and Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Irving teaches in the Creative Writing Program and the Initiative on Race and Resilience at the University of Notre Dame.