Cover image for Fingerprints of previous owners : a novel
Title:
Fingerprints of previous owners : a novel
ISBN:
9781944700232
Physical Description:
235 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort's overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins that her island community refuses to acknowledge. Rapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner's estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantation--a site where her ancestors once worked the land, but which the resort now uses as a lookout point for tourists. When Myrna discovers a book detailing the experiences of slaves, who still share a last name with the majority of the islanders, her investigation becomes deeply personal, extending to her neighbors and friends, and explaining her mother's self-imposed silence and father's disappearance. A new generation begins to speak about the past just as racial tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community when an African-American tourist at the resort is brutally attacked."--Publisher's description.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Copies
Status
Searching...
Book FICTION ENT 1 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION ENT 1 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION ENT 1 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION ENT 1 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION ENT 1 1
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

A Starred Review from Kirkus

One of the Chicago Review of Books Best Books to Survive Trump

At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort's overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins the locals refuse to acknowledge. Myrna's mother has stopped speaking and her friends are focused on surviving the present, but Myrna is drawn to Cruffey Island's violent past. With the arrival of Mrs. Manion, a wealthy African-American, also comes new information about the history of theslave-owner's estate and tensions finally erupt between the resort and the local island community. Suffused with the sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean, Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a powerful novel of hope and recovery in the wake of devastating trauma. In her soulful and timely debut, Entel explores what it means to colonize and be colonized, to trespass and be trespassed upon, to be wounded and to heal.


Author Notes

Rebecca Entel began this novel while teaching on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. She is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Cornell College, where she teaches African-American and Caribbean literature and directs the Center for the Literary Arts. She holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Her short stories have been published in Guernica , Joyland Magazine , The Madison Review , and elsewhere, and several have been shortlisted for awards from Glimmer Train, Southwest Review, and the Manchester Fiction Prize. Fingerprints of Previous Owners is her first novel.


Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

A young woman unearths the violent history of her Caribbean home. Nobody on Myrna's island talks about the place's past: plugged deep in the Caribbean, it once housed a plantation owned by a man named Cruffey, along with his slaves. Most of the island's current black-skinned residents, Myrna included, are descendants of those slaves. Many of them share Cruffey's last name. To talk about that past is verboten; to visit the ruins of the estate, even more so. In any case, those ruins have long since been overgrown by brush. Now, the focal point of the island is the tourist resort that has taken over most of it. Wealthy white patrons lounge by the pool, their backs to the sea. Myrna works as a maid. Whenever a new boatload of visitors arrives, she and the rest of the staff play out a troubling diorama. The white workers dress up as Columbus; the black workers, descendants of slaves, dress up as "natives"none of whom have survived to the present day. This is the first novel by Entel, a professor of African-American and Caribbean literature at Cornell, and it is a magnificent one. Her prose is lyrical, luminous, and each detail has been planted as precisely as a foundation stone. Myrna begins spending her evenings struggling through the brush to the island's interior, where the ruins are located. The way is difficult. Her skin and clothes are snagged by thorns. She hardly knows what she's looking for. Then, one day, a black American woman shows up, a tourist, with a large book Myrna soon catches sight of: The Cruffey Plantation Journal: 1833. It's the most explicit reference to the island's past Myrna has come across. As Myrna pursues the book and the ghosts of the island's past, long-buried tensions begin to rise. The dioramas staged by the resort staff grow crueler, more violent. In a way, Myrna's project echoes Entel's larger one: both Myrna and Entel seek to unearth a long-buried history; both of them seek to give voice to those who have been silenced. Here's hoping that Entel follows her first novel with many more. A reckoning with the legacies of colonialism and slavery and their reverberations in the present day. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Myrna works as a maid at a Caribbean resort on a small island. After her shift each night, she explores the ruins of a former slave plantation, hidden away inland. None of the local people speak about the plantation or dark moments in their past. Myrna's mother no longer speaks at all, now that her father has died and her brother is gone. Myrna's fascination with the ruins grows when an African American guest arrives with a book detailing the plantation's history. Entel's delicately crafted debut explores the relationships between the resort, an economic center that distorts the island's history for its own purposes, and the local people and the ways the past infuses the present, no matter how hard one tries to forget. Entel gives Myrna a distinctive voice and creates a rich history for the island and its residents. In charged moments, readers may wish for greater clarity from Myrna's descriptions. Entel's writing explores historical memory, race relations, economic imperialism, and family dynamics through the detailed world of Cruffey Island.--Chanoux, Laura Copyright 2017 Booklist


Library Journal Review

DEBUT Despite abolition, slavery leaves behind a traumatic legacy for descendants that often includes marginalization and systemic racism. These aspects are creatively highlighted by Entel (African American and Caribbean literature, Cornell Univ.) in her debut novel, which tells the story of Myrna, who works as a maid at a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation. By night, the curious young woman explores the resort's neglected areas to learn more about the history of its servants. She finds items discarded by the American tourists she serves as well as artifacts left from the days of the plantation. Her greatest discovery is a journal that carefully documents the time of slavery, becoming the catalyst for further investigation into the lives of her family members. One of the novel's most effective components is the weaving of multigenerational and intercontinental relationships among the islanders and Americans who have a history with Furnace Island, where the story takes place. The sometimes fragmented sentences may be difficult for some to follow, but most passages are beautifully descriptive. VERDICT Of special interest to readers of Caribbean and historical fiction but with general appeal.-Ashanti White, Fayetteville, NC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.