How to Escape from a Leper Colony

How to Escape from a Leper Colony
A Novella and Stories
Tiphanie Yanique

“I reached the end of How to Escape from a Leper Colony with the exhilarating sense that I had been on the best kind of journey—not, finally, to the Virgin Islands nor Trinidad nor Houston nor London, but to the imagination of a wonderfully talented young writer who has many more stories to tell.”—Margot Livesey, The Boston Globe

“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”

About the Book

An enthralling debut collection from a singular Caribbean voice
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.

Additional Reviews

“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