October 1st 2006
£8.99
288 pages
B-Format Paperback
ISBN
978 0 9551384 0

Prizes

  • LONGLISTED FOR THE FRANK O’CONNOR INTERNATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD
  • LONGLISTED FOR THE EDGEHILL SHORT STORY PRIZE 2007

At Home with Miss Vanesa by E. A. Markham

Buy Now Price £8.99

This is another unclassifiable gem of a book from E. A. Markham. Time and viewpoint shift effortlessly between characters. The book recalls Ladbroke Grove in the 1950s, a 1970s socialist building co-operative in the Alpes Maritimes, the volcanic eruption that wrecked the island of Montserrat, and comes bang up to date with Wayne Rooney’s metatarsal. At Home with Miss Vanesa is a very clever and immensely warm book

Independent

The returnees are making a new life on a Caribbean island they call home. After all their time in London, Boston and Paris, their birthplace now presents something of a challenge. But when Miss Vanesa’s artistic club meets on the narrative verandah there’s seduction and sardines, jacuzzis and world affairs to keep them busy. Nora, ‘Fred’ and Vanesa like to discuss the foolishness of men and draft letters to exclude undesirables. They ponder Arwell’s dreams of a perfect marriage to Condoleezza Rice. And they ask how can Russell Trajan be so half-witted as to land up on a beach in Guadeloupe, then Antigua, to miss his father’s funeral on another island …

These playful, meandering perspectives guide the reader in a virtuous circle of travelling and visiting, hosting and being a guest.

This is the liveliest of reading companions, both edgy and charming. Markham himself is an infectiously garrulous, digressive and witty narrator – and he and his loose-linked cycle of stories are damn good company

Jim Crace

Welcome to the narrative veranda! For it is here that Miss Vanesa holds court on her Caribbean island … Markham’s absorbing, speculative, digressive new work belongs to no known genre. This book navigates a difficult emotional terrain of displacement, literary politics and memory, yet manages to be moving without being maudlin … to make us feel optimistic, uncomfortable and gutted – all at once. Racism through the decades, its various forms and how to deal with it, is a recurring theme. No one gets off lightly

Guardian

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