Monday, July 02, 2007

Unburnable - debut novel by Marie-Elena John

Bibi considers Marie-Elena John's debut Unburnable to be one of the best novels she's read in years- a novel stuffed full of passion, love and lust, set in Dominica and the US. Chimamanda Adichie agrees - see her recent Great Escape piece for the UK Guardian. Message from Bibi: if you only buy one book this year - buy this one..


Agnes,  5:34 pm  

I heard about the book from girlfriends in the states. They were all raving about it. So, I placed my order about a month ago to Amazon for delivery to Bayalsa I still haven't recieved it. Anyone experiencing similar problems with recieving books from Amazaon in Nigeria? I tried to get one of those lagos bookshop to place an order and you can't imagine how much they wanted to charge. Is there no way for those of us in Nigeria to access books without having to pay triple the price?

I hear this is a really good book and I look forward to reading it whenever it arrives.

Anonymous,  10:51 am  

Wow this from Bibi!! I am definitely puting my orders in. For Bibi to sing its praises, it must be really good cause I know how discerning (and at times snobby) she is when it comes to literature, art and music.

Marie-Elena,  8:50 pm  

Hi Agnes
Marie-Elena here, thanks for the comment; glad to hear your girlfriends are recommending Unburnable. I understand the frustration about not having access to good books at a reasonable price. In fact we have the same issue here in the Caribbean, especially the small islands like Antigua. Anyhow, Bibi is right now in discussions with my agent so it's not impossible that your wish might come true (access to books, at least, to Unburnable, without paying triple the price). Fingers crossed. Thanks again for your post,

Funmi Iyanda 9:20 pm  

going to get it now


How interesting. I am currently visiting Dominica (have spent about 3 weeks here and have 1 more to go). It is great to hear about this book. Will look for it on the island. If not, will try to get a copy when I return to the States. I always try to patronize Dominicans, after all my hubby is from there.

Thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous,  5:44 pm  

We read this book in my reading circle about a few months ago. We laughed, some of us cried, all of us were blown away and stunned into silence in some places. It is a really good book to do in a discussion group. We loved it so much that we were still discussing it during our next meeting.

I will agree with Bibi, that this is a book that deserves to be read. I have read it twice already and each time, I realise I had missed something out before. Since the writer read this blog could you please tell me, is this story based on some historical fact and you then reworked it or is it purely a figment of your imagination? Especially the story about the community on the hilltop and what happened to them later in the book (sorry can't give the story away!)

I hope that folks in Nigeria gets to read this book because it is about Africa as it is about the New World.

I look forward to reading more stuff by this writer.


Anonymous,  8:38 pm  

I beg between bibi and marie-elena's agent make una make this book come to Nigeria O cause my 3 months old is already soiled from too many hands. This is a fantastic fantastic beautiful book

marie-elena 9:19 pm  

Hi Solomonysdelle and Alice:
First question about whether you can find Unburnable in Dominica -- not sure... I know that one bookstore has carried it in the past, but they often run out and it takes a while to restock. It's Pages on King George V Street. Another store. Also the boutique Ego, owned by Florence Green, has carried it as well.
Alice, the general idea of that community is based on historical fact, but all the details are imagined -- I realize this isn't a great answer but like you, I don't want to give anything away! If you care to, feel free to send me a note via the contact page of my website and then I can be as specific as you like.
and many thanks for your support!

Atutupoyoyo 2:36 am  

Fantastic book. I recommended it to a Dominican friend who cried at various parts. Moving stuff.

marie-elena 4:05 pm  

Hi again from Marie-Elena -- I just got this link to a podcast of a radio interview I did late last year and thought it would be interesting to post it here -- it was for the Pacifica Radio Show "Africa Meets Africa" hosted by Liberian Angelique Shofar, and so it focuses a lot on my Nigeria background including my time at UNN -- and the Africa underpinnings of Unburnable in general... Plus she has the most beautiful voice...

Anonymous,  11:29 am  

Jeremy or is it Bibi, whatever may you both be blessed. It was my first time of reading your blog after hearing so many conflicting messages about it. As I was scanning through I came across your reference to this book that I had heard about before, but paid no notice of it. So I thought is God trying to tell me something. I went and bought it. I spent the whole of sat/sun (skipping church - never missed church in 10years!!) to read the book. It is totally awesome. Awesome. This is the moment when I wish I was a writer. Words escape me. I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I screamed in horror and amazement. I was spooked, I could feel my veins rising to the surface of my skin. I had goose pimples all over. I kept wantting to stop, but I couldn't. I was totally consumed by it for two sleepless days and it was well worth every effort.

Reading this story made me realise that black/African people have so many story that is yet to be told. But this story is told with sensitivity and much sensuality, love and passion. The violence is not gratitious at all. This is a most powerful book. It is the kind of book you can imagine Literature students getting their teeth in. I wish I was in a reading cicle.

When I finished I thought I really did not want it to stop. I thought I was watching a film. I am sure Ms Oprah would have bought the rights by now. This is an amazing book. I have ordered 10copies already to send to friends in Ghana and Cameroon. This is an amazing book.

sorry for taking over your blog like this.


marie-elena 5:36 pm  

Annie, whereever you are, thanks for that heartfelt endorsement.

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