by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger
Few debut novels can lay claim to mapping a nation’s environmental heart, yet this is what Esther Figueroa’s Limbo seeks to delineate from its opening pages. To hear the story’s feisty and emotionally volatile narrator, Flora Smith, tell it, Jamaica’s lack of concern for the very land and ocean that its inhabitants call home will be its ruination. Flora struggles to keep her small environmental NGO afloat, seeking respite in the counsel of her dearest friend Lilac, with whom she can share her deepest grievances, romantic frustrations and giddy recollections of youth.
When large-scale corruption, linked to beach sand-mining, raps ominously on Flora’s door, how the environmentalist responds will determine not just the future of her intrepid NGO, but her own personal safety, too.
Limbo is a story as devoted to the bonds we make with kindred spirits as it is a satirical examination of humanity’s worst crimes against a landscape it ought to nurture and respect. Figueroa pulls no punches in her dire analysis of man’s relationship with the great outdoors, using Flora as a convincing, impassioned mouthpiece in the eco-conservationist’s often-thankless battle.
“What circle of hell is reserved for those who have done irreparable damage? What should be their eternal damnation?” Flora asks herself, in the aftermath of uncovering some distressing abuse of coral reef systems. Grimly, she concludes: “For those who enrich themselves through lies and silence, let them listen to a ceaseless, blaring, tuneless chorus singing of the consequences of their actions.”
A passionate, playful romp through Jamaica’s yet-untrampled wilderness, Limbo‘s pages are equally heavy with pronouncements against the ecologically unaware. Limbo reminds the reader that our vast enjoyment of life is critically linked to how well we honour the lakes and rivers, the sand and sea of our Caribbean homes.