How to Escape from a Leper Colony
How to Escape from a Leper Colony:
A Novella and Stories
by Tiphanie Yanique
$15.00 List Price
Tiphanie Yanique's How to Escape from a Leper Colony is a skillfully crafted collection of short stories that offer ample rewards—vivid characterizations, evocative language—at their finish lines.
Like her protagonists, Yanique hails from the Caribbean; her stories are set in locales ranging from New York and Texas to Guyana and the ghost island of Chacachacare. "The Saving Work" follows two childhood friends: Thomas, named "after the island of his birth," and Jasmine, who both attend college in New York. They fall clumsily into a romantic relationship while obsessing over the implications of their skin colors (Jasmine is biracial). Yanique tells us, "He is a kind of yellow color. Almost like gold. Her color is muted and therefore more mysterious." Later, when the church in which they are to be married goes up in flames and their mothers are bickering nearby, Yanique mourns, "This family has never thrown a Frisbee around together at the beach. They have never sat in a circle and told each other stories." Unlike a good deal of earnestly multicultural fiction, Yanique's stories look beyond mere ethnicity to locate the subtler strands of human identity.
In her effort to cast Caribbean life in a magic light, Yanique sometimes relies on folklore's well-worn tropes. In one story, a casket that resembles a mansion door works its way into someone's dreams with supernatural force; in another, there's a leper who claims he can fly. "Canoe Sickness" gets its name from a condition that supposedly causes shark hunters to become paralyzed in their vessels by the silence and stillness