Archipelago by Monique Roffey

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger


Dear Paper Based readers, as the tremendously exciting third annual Bocas Lit Fest draws closer (we’re a mere two weeks away!) we’ll be focusing on several of the festival’s books here on our blog. This week, we turn our attention to the three category prize winners of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, beginning with the victorious fiction selection: Archipelago by Monique Roffey. We’ve hosted a special reading of Monique reading from Archipelago at the shop, and can personally declare it to be a resounding success of a novel, one that sets itself apart on the merits of its ambitious, engaging voice. Archipelago reads as that rare fictive accomplishment: an engaging story, beautifully told.

The novel focuses on the (mis)adventures of unlikely hero Gavin Weald, his daughter Océan and their loyal hound, Suzy, as the three set sail on Gavin’s old boat Romany, to visit the Venezuelan Los Roques archipelagic chain of islands. In transporting his small familial tribe to new waters, Gavin flees the crippling loss he’s endured in Trinidad, charting a course to a destination whose emotional resonances he cannot yet quite fathom. An astounding portrait of the human psyche under pressure, the novel is replete with the stunning beauty of the natural world.

Succintly and grandly described by Kapka Kassabova of The Guardian as a “A big-hearted Moby Dick story for our times”, Archipelago wins over even the most sea-wary of travellers with its commitment to telling its own personal truths, and to telling them in a style that only serves to invite us deeper into the windswept, tempest-tossed world created in the writer’s capable hands.