From the acclaimed author of Daughters and Brown Girl, Brownstones comes a "work of exceptional wisdom, maturity, and generosity, one in which the palpable humanity of its characters transcends any considerations of race or sex"(Washington Post Book World). Avey Johnson--a black, middle-aged, middle-class widow given to hats, gloves, and pearls--has long since put behind her the Harlem of her childhood. Then on a cruise to the Caribbean with two friends, inspired by a troubling dream, she senses her life beginning to unravel--and in a panic packs her bag in the middle of the night and abandons her friends at the next port of call. The unexpected and beautiful adventure that follows provides Avey with the links to the culture and history she has so long disavowed. "Astonishingly moving."--Anne Tyler, The New York Times Book Review
On and on he recited the list of names, pausing after each one to give her time to answer.
"Temne . . . ? Is you a Temne maybe? Banda . . . ?"
What was the man going on about? What were these names? Each one made her head ache all the more. She thought she heard in them the faint rattle of the necklace of cowrie shells and amber Marion always wore. Africa? Did they have something to do with Africa?
Sixty-something widow Avey Johnson is on a Caribbean cruise with a couple of friends, an annual event since the death of her husband some four years earlier. Something happens to Avey on this cruise. She has a sudden urge to leave the ship and take the next plane home, so she disembarks at Grenada, the ship's next port of call. Instead of flying home immediately, Avey is drawn into the annual excursion from Grenada to the out island of Carriacou - a sort of ritual homecoming for the islanders who now make their homes on Grenada. The experience becomes a spiritual and cultural homecoming for Avey.
This novel explores collective memory as expressed through religious and cultural rituals and oral traditions in the United States and the Caribbean. Recommended for readers with an interest in African American literature, Caribbean literature, the African diaspora, women's studies, and religious studies.