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Even in Paradise
Cover of Even in Paradise
Even in Paradise

"King Lear in the Caribbean—except in this novel, the flattery and deceit of Glynis (Goneril) and Rebecca (Regan) lose out to the principled, honest love of their younger sister, Corinne (Cordelia)."
O, the Oprah Magazine, 10 Titles to Pick Up Now
Named a Must-Read Book by the New York Post
"An epic tale of family betrayal and manipulation couched in superbly engaging prose and peopled with deftly drawn characters. In a story structure as rhythmic as the ebb and flow of the water surrounding Trinidad and Barbados, this revisiting of the classic story of King Lear becomes a subtle, organic exploration of politics, class, race, and privilege. A dazzling, epic triumph."
Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
"[Narrator] Émile remarks on parallels to King Lear repeatedly, but there is much more to unpack here. The issue of racism is woven throughout, as are regional problems such as access to Barbados's beaches and poverty in Jamaica's Tivoli Gardens. This is also a celebration of the arts, culture, and natural beauty of the islands. Shakespeare's work is a tragedy, but for Émile 'the future shimmers before [him] full of wondrous possibilities.' Nunez treats her source material with a deft touch, making this story impressive in its own right."
Publishers Weekly
"Nunez's textured and engaging novel explores familial discord, along with questions of kinship and self-identity....With a nod to King Lear, Nunez crafts an introspective tale as her vividly drawn characters navigate complications of heritage, race, and loyalty."
Booklist
"Even if you're not familiar with King Lear, William Shakespeare's great tragedy, you will still enjoy Even in Paradise by Elizabeth Nunez...The author's drama heads to a new place: the Caribbean. We meet Peter Ducksworth, a widower of English ancestry, who retires to beatific Barbados...Ducksworth's plan to divide his land evenly among his three daughters goes horribly awry when he cuts off his youngest. Having been deceived by the older two, he sees his dreams of a heaven on earth turn hellish. Nunez inspires with this one."
Essence Magazine
"Nunez has written a Caribbean reimagining of King Lear that adds colonialism and racism to the story of three sisters, the men they love and their battle over the deed to their father's beloved property. Themes of greed, jealousy and resentment play out after their father confuses flattery with love and disowns his favorite daughter."
Ms. Magazine
"Novelist Nunez, who tackled The Tempest in her 2006 novel, Prospero's Daughter, here offers a retelling of King Lear. Both novels feature a cast of multicultural characters and a Caribbean setting."
Library Journal
Peter Ducksworth, a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry, retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear, who hoped "That future strife/May be prevented now." But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth. Feeling snubbed by his youngest daughter, Ducksworth decides that only after he dies will she receive her portion of the land. In the meantime, he gives his two older daughters their portions, ironically setting in motion the very strife he hoped to prevent.
Beautifully written in elegant prose, this is a novel about greed, resentment, jealousy, betrayal, and romantic love in the...

"King Lear in the Caribbean—except in this novel, the flattery and deceit of Glynis (Goneril) and Rebecca (Regan) lose out to the principled, honest love of their younger sister, Corinne (Cordelia)."
O, the Oprah Magazine, 10 Titles to Pick Up Now
Named a Must-Read Book by the New York Post
"An epic tale of family betrayal and manipulation couched in superbly engaging prose and peopled with deftly drawn characters. In a story structure as rhythmic as the ebb and flow of the water surrounding Trinidad and Barbados, this revisiting of the classic story of King Lear becomes a subtle, organic exploration of politics, class, race, and privilege. A dazzling, epic triumph."
Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
"[Narrator] Émile remarks on parallels to King Lear repeatedly, but there is much more to unpack here. The issue of racism is woven throughout, as are regional problems such as access to Barbados's beaches and poverty in Jamaica's Tivoli Gardens. This is also a celebration of the arts, culture, and natural beauty of the islands. Shakespeare's work is a tragedy, but for Émile 'the future shimmers before [him] full of wondrous possibilities.' Nunez treats her source material with a deft touch, making this story impressive in its own right."
Publishers Weekly
"Nunez's textured and engaging novel explores familial discord, along with questions of kinship and self-identity....With a nod to King Lear, Nunez crafts an introspective tale as her vividly drawn characters navigate complications of heritage, race, and loyalty."
Booklist
"Even if you're not familiar with King Lear, William Shakespeare's great tragedy, you will still enjoy Even in Paradise by Elizabeth Nunez...The author's drama heads to a new place: the Caribbean. We meet Peter Ducksworth, a widower of English ancestry, who retires to beatific Barbados...Ducksworth's plan to divide his land evenly among his three daughters goes horribly awry when he cuts off his youngest. Having been deceived by the older two, he sees his dreams of a heaven on earth turn hellish. Nunez inspires with this one."
Essence Magazine
"Nunez has written a Caribbean reimagining of King Lear that adds colonialism and racism to the story of three sisters, the men they love and their battle over the deed to their father's beloved property. Themes of greed, jealousy and resentment play out after their father confuses flattery with love and disowns his favorite daughter."
Ms. Magazine
"Novelist Nunez, who tackled The Tempest in her 2006 novel, Prospero's Daughter, here offers a retelling of King Lear. Both novels feature a cast of multicultural characters and a Caribbean setting."
Library Journal
Peter Ducksworth, a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry, retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear, who hoped "That future strife/May be prevented now." But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth. Feeling snubbed by his youngest daughter, Ducksworth decides that only after he dies will she receive her portion of the land. In the meantime, he gives his two older daughters their portions, ironically setting in motion the very strife he hoped to prevent.
Beautifully written in elegant prose, this is a novel about greed, resentment, jealousy, betrayal, and romantic love in the...

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About the Author-
  • Elizabeth Nunez is the award-winning author of nine novels and a memoir. Both Boundaries and Anna In-Between were New York Times Editors' Choices. Anna In-Between won the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award and was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Nunez also received the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in non?ction for Not for Everyday Use, the 2011 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers and Barnes & Noble, an American Book Award, and a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad & Tobago National Library. She is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, CUNY, where she teaches ?ction writing. She divides her time between Amityville and Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 1, 2016
    Nunez’s (Not for Everyday Use) novel riffs on a classic Shakespearean tale, but her handling of the setting and contemporary elements lift it above mere pastiche. Émile Baxter is the son of the most famous surgeon of Trinidad and, as it happens, is of partial African descent. His best friend Albert Glazal is from a wealthy Trinidadian mercantile family, whose Christian Syrian-Lebanese ancestors moved to the islands generations ago. Émile’s life also intersects that of Peter Ducksworth and his three daughters, a rich family of English stock: the eldest, Glynis, is Albert’s fiancée, while Émile is drawn to Ducksworth’s youngest, the vivacious Corinne. Glynis and Rebecca, the middle sister, are schemers, wanting their father’s land and his beautiful house for their own real estate plans. Émile remarks on parallels to King Lear repeatedly, but there is much more to unpack here. The issue of racism is woven throughout, as are regional problems such as access to Barbados’s beaches and poverty in Jamaica’s Tivoli Gardens. This is also a celebration of the arts, culture, and natural beauty of the islands. Shakespeare’s work is a tragedy, but for Émile “the future shimmers before full of wondrous possibilities.” Nunez treats her source material with a deft touch, making this story impressive in its own right.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 1, 2016
    Nunez (Not for Everyday Use, 2014, etc.) spins a Shakespearean tale of patriarch Peter Duckworth, a wealthy Trinidadian landowner of European descent who divides his Barbados estate among his three daughters and sets off a disastrous series of events. When narrator Emile Baxter, who's black, meets Corinne Duckworth, he's 16 and she's 12, but it's love at first sight. Corinne is well-known as Peter Duckworth's "favorite child, the youngest of three daughters, the apple of his eye." But, after a near-death experience, Peter is bent on leaving Trinidad and fulfilling his dream of moving to Barbados. The Trini islanders, however, see Duckworth's move as an effort to "find white husbands for his daughters." So it's not until Emile arrives at the University of the West Indies, when his Lebanese best friend, Albert Glazal, proposes to Corinne's eldest sister, Glynis, that he meets Corinne again. On the night of Glynis' engagement party, Peter gives his land away to his three daughters. Corrine is given the extravagant mansion and its grounds--but can only take possession after Duckworth's death. "I will not be put out of my house," says Peter, calling upon the fate of that famous Shakespearean king whose actions Duckworth has just repeated. And, immediately, Glynis hatches a plan to evict her father from his house and turn the land into a real estate development. What follows is an epic tale of family betrayal and manipulation couched in superbly engaging prose and peopled with deftly drawn characters. In a story structure as rhythmic as the ebb and flow of the water surrounding Trinidad and Barbados, this revisiting of the classic story of King Lear becomes a subtle, organic exploration of politics, class, race, and privilege. A dazzling, epic triumph.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2017

    Novelist Nunez, who tackled The Tempest in her 2006 novel, Prospero's Daughter, here offers a retelling of King Lear. Both novels feature a cast of multicultural characters and a Caribbean setting.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • New York Post

    "King Lear in the Caribbean. Nunez's latest novel follows widower and Barbados retiree Peter Ducksworth, who tests the love and loyalty of his three daughters. Like Lear, things fall apart for Ducksworth when he fails to realize that his youngest daughter truly loves him while the older two are simply using flattery to obtain their inheritance. It all takes place on sumptuous white Caribbean beaches and lush gardens."

  • Toronto Star "Nunez's ninth novel is a recasting of King Lear, with race as the wild card in this classic tale of familial dysfunction. Trinidadian Peter Ducksworth--white but nevertheless 'Trin to the bone'--retires with his three daughters to Barbados. He soon feels he has been betrayed by his favourite daughter, Corinne. As punishment, he gives his two older daughters their share of an inheritance now but makes Corinne wait until his death to receive her share."
  • Insights Magazine "As in the Lear tale, this modern-day familial drama centers on mistrust, greed and betrayals that are triggered by power, status and property. Along the way, issues of race, class, and other cultural traits within island societies serve as relevant ingredients to the chain of events affecting the Ducksworth family. It all makes Even in Paradise as much a fascinating read about social and economic complexities on these islands as it is an acutely human portrait of family dysfunction and destruction."
  • Book Riot, One of 7 Small Press Books to Read in April "An intersection between a retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear and a story about modern-day racism, poverty, and culture in the Caribbean...An epic story that still feels intimate to the reader."
  • New York Journal of Books "Nunez has written a very readable...engaging novel that deals with big themes worthy of good storytelling."
  • Midwest Book Review "A compelling novel about greed, resentment, jealousy, betrayal, and romantic love in the post-colonial world of the Caribbean, and featuring a diverse cast of deftly crafted characters of African, Indian, Chinese, Syrian/Lebanese, and English ancestry, Even In Paradise is another superbly written work from the pen of Elizabeth Nunez and very highly recommended."
  • Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel "Even as Émile vividly describes the colorful surface of Caribbean culture--its beautiful women, delicious food, vibrant music and sandy beaches--he continually reminds us of what Lear himself finally sees: Appearances can be deceiving. Ditto this book. It can feel at times like a light beach read made for a Caribbean vacation. But it also continually journeys inland...Hence Nunez's frequent, deftly inserted lessons involving Caribbean history. As her title suggests, one can never escape that history, even when sipping rum on a hilltop mansion overlooking paradise."
  • MuggleNet "[Nunez's] prose has a timeless quality, abundant in detail and vivid description, and her rich evocation of culture, place, and identity make this an easy and compelling read--the Caribbean islands of Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica are just as much characters as any of the people in the novel...Nunez draws the Lear comparisons so expertly, you'll find yourself wondering if the Caribbean wasn't the original setting for this story after all...Even in Paradise is a fast and thought-provoking read, as well as being a great juicy drama to dive into just as the weather gets warmer."
  • Hello Beautiful, #BlackWomenRead: 17 Books by Black Women You Need In Your Life This Spring "In her latest novel, Even in Paradise, acclaimed author Elizabeth Nunez reimagines Shakespeare's King Lear set in the Caribbean. She transforms the classic tragic tale of betrayal and manipulation within a family into a more political meditation on race, class, and privilege featuring a multiracial cast of characters."
  • Foreword Reviews "Fragile father-daughter and father-son bonds, pernicious sibling rivalry, the complexities of race relations: combine that with a Shakespearean element, and there's the formula for a rich and engaging story. But take note: there is nothing formulaic about this powerful and insightful novel that transports readers to the modern-day Caribbean, where loyalties are tested, truth can...
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