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Book Title

How to Escape from a Leper Colony

A Novella and Stories
Author 1
Tiphanie Yanique
For a leper, many things are impossible, and many other things are easily done. Babalao Chuck said he could fly to other side of the island and peek at the nuns bathing. And when a man with no hands claims that he can fly, you listen.

The inhabitants of an island walk into the sea. A man passes a jail cell's window, shouldering a wooden cross. And in the international shop of coffins, a story repeats itself, pointing toward an inevitable tragedy. If the facts of these stories are sometimes fantastical, the situations they describe are complex, and all too real.

Lyrical, lush, and haunting, the prose shimmers in this nuanced debut, set mostly in the US Virgin Islands. Part oral history, part postcolonial narrative, How to Escape from a Leper Colony is ultimately a loving portrait of a wholly unique place. Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Edwidge Danticat, and Maryse Conde before her, Yanique has crafted a book that is heartbreaking, hilarious, magical, and mesmerizing. An unforgettable collection.

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6 x 9
An enthralling debut collection from a singular Caribbean voice

About the Author

Tiphanie  Yanique
Credit: Moses Djeli
Tiphanie Yanique is the author of How To Escape from a Leper Colony. She is from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. An assistant professor at Drew University, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and St. Thomas with her husband, the photographer and teacher Moses Djeli.
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  • “I can’t remember a debut that was quite so assured. . . . It is easy to imagine Yanique’s characters in an adaptation for the stage: think ‘Our Town,’ set in the Caribbean, but with raw language and stories full of violence and sexuality. Plus it’s funny, too. Are you listening, Oprah?”—The Boston Globe, “16 up-and-comers who might make it big in 2010”
  • “Tiphanie Yanique captures single moments from a variety of perspectives that illuminate those instants in surprising ways. . . . Yanique’s skill lies in taking quick glimpses of people and situations and progressively deepening the relief in which they are portrayed.”—Harper’s Magazine
  • “To wrap your mind around life on an island, you need to understand insularity, restlessness, the way it feels to have a fluid sense of identity. All this and more is what you get from Tiphanie Yanique’s haunting and vibrant debut fiction collection.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
  • “A skillfully crafted collection of short stories that offer ample rewards—vivid characterizations, evocative language—at their finish lines. . . . Unlike a good deal of multicultural fiction, Yanique’s stories look beyond mere ethnicity to locate the subtler strands of human identity.”—Bookforum



This book is made possible through a partnership with the College of St. Benedict, in honor of the legacy of S. Mariella Gable, a distinguished teacher at the College. It is also made possible in part by the Jerome Foundation, which supports new works by emerging artists in New York City and Minnesota, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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