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Island People
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This masterwork of travel literature and history provides a kaleidoscopic portrait of the Caribbean and illuminates its fierce grip on the world's imagination. From the moment Columbus gazed out from the deck of the Santa Maria in 1492 at what he mistook for an island off Asia, the Caribbean has been subjected to the misunderstandings and fantasies of outsiders. Forged by more than three centuries of mass migration and slave labor, the region and its diverse peoples have helped shape the modern world--through politics, religion, economics, music, and culture. Joshua Jelly-Schapiro takes us from Cuba to Jamaica, Puerto Rico to Trinidad, Haiti to Barbados, chronicling with wit and keen insight this "place where globalization began."
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About the Author

Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is a geographer and writer whose work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, New York, Harper's, the Believer, Artforum, and The Nation, among many other publications. Educated at Yale and Berkeley, he is the co-editor, with Rebecca Solnit, of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, and a visiting scholar at New York University's Institute for Public Knowledge. This is his first book.

Reviews

"A travelogue of love and scholarship. . . . [It] does the region splendid justice." --The New York Times "Many have tried this before--to get hold of, in its entirety, the volatile, beautiful, relentlessly shifting Caribbean. Nobody has succeeded as dazzlingly." --Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings "This terrific travel narrative . . . is also a magnificent musical journey (reggae, salsa and ska), a literary odyssey . . . and a heartfelt historical voyage. Island People powerfully shows how places shape people, and how people shape places." ---The Observer "Joshua Jelly-Schapiro possesses both a humanist's irrepressible empathy and a journalist's necessary skepticism. He reports carefully, researches exhaustively, cares deeply, and writes beautifully."--Dave Eggers, author of Heroes of the Frontier "Joshua Jelly-Schapiro's grand book on the Caribbean is so striking in form and vision that it amounts to something new--a constant surprise."--Hilton Als, author of White Girls "Written with passion and joyful music in the prose, Island People will become an indispensable companion for anybody traveling to the Caribbean--or dreaming of doing so."--Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found "A travelogue of love and scholarship . . . does the region splendid justice." --The New York Times "Island People, written by a careful and compassionate author, is a worthy travel and history book, a fresh study of these economically hamstrung islands and their failing attempts at rebranding."--The Guardian "Many have tried this before--to get hold of, in its entirety, the volatile, beautiful, relentlessly shifting Caribbean. Nobody has succeeded as dazzlingly as Joshua Jelly-Schapiro."--Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings and winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize "Joshua Jelly-Schapiro possesses both a humanist's irrepressible empathy and a journalist's necessary skepticism. He reports carefully, researches exhaustively, cares deeply, and writes beautifully."--Dave Eggers, author of Heroes of the Frontier "The Caribbean--the supposed 'American lake'--has always been the sea of stories and of dreams, a phantasmagorical realm of the beautiful, the fantastical, and the not-quite believable. Since Columbus and the Haitian Revolution these scattered lands of miracles and wonders have shaped the history of our world, and for decades they have cried out for a revivified history by a chronicler--in the wake of C.L.R. James and Naipaul and Wolcott--equal to the task. And now here is Island People, precisely that marvel of a book, given to us by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, a superb young writer who brings to this sea of dreams a scholar's authority, a novelist's way with character, and an ace reporter's talent for stumbling into exactly that tale, however improbable and fantastic, that most needs telling."--Mark Danner, author of Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War "Joshua Jelly-Schapiro's grand book on the Caribbean is so striking in form and vision that it amounts to something new--a constant surprise. Even as Jelly-Schapiro combines reportage, cultural analysis, and history to superb effect, this important book filled with many truths defines and gives new meaning to that lovely phrase, sui generis."--Hilton Als, author of White Girls "Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is one of those rare writers who bridges worlds--between deep scholarship and lively and accessible writing, between islands and mainlands, between big ideas and precise details, between history and possibility."--Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me and Other Essays "Joshua Jelly-Schapiro's book illuminates, like no other I've read, the startling history and the complex present of the nations of the Caribbean. Written with passion and joyful music in the prose, Island People will become an indispensable companion for anybody traveling to the Caribbean--or dreaming of doing so. Accessible and well-informed, Island People is the best book about the Caribbean since V.S. Naipaul's The Middle Passage--and in significant ways, it is a better book."--Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

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