Acclaimed novelist Angela Barry to unveil new novel on Friday
Award-winning Bermudian author Angela Barry is to host a book launch and reading of her latest novel this Friday.
The Drowned Forest examines Bermuda’s social divisions through the eyes of a diverse group of characters connected to the island.
The characters are united by a shared responsibility for a young Black girl who is on the verge of incarceration, and they share different perspectives of life in Bermuda.
Ms Barry, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bermuda Arts Council in 2017, said: “I always knew I wanted to devote a novel to telling something of Bermuda’s story. I think that as somebody who devised the first real course on Bermudian literature, I noted to my students that there are several Bermudas and these different Bermudas don’t always interlock.
“I wanted to write a book that tried to envisage the whole, I wanted the book not to be from a single perspective but to provide a more nuanced view. I knew it was an ambitious project.”
The characters represent a diverse cross section of the island’s community.
The back cover introduces them as follows: “There is Nina, from the respectable Black middle-class, with her own prickly uncertainties and moral hang-ups; Lizzie, fighting for her own space in a Portuguese family railing against changing times; Tess, battling with guilt over her white privilege and her reluctance to lose its benefits; and Hugh, a young Welshman who has come to the island to find himself …”
The book’s description adds: “Angela Barry weaves a rich and absorbing narrative in which these different perspectives – insider, outsider, youth, aged, Black, white – are each given sympathetic space and a convincing sense of growth through the span of the novel.”
Ms Barry said that while the book is fiction it encompasses elements of reality.
She added: “There is a lot about Bermuda’s history in the book as there is in each human being although we are talking about a story that takes place over about two years from 2002 to 2004, the characters have different memories and things that connect them to the past.
“There was the excavation of an ancient cedar root – this is part of the story of The Drowned Forest when it was taken from the seabed and raised to the open air – in 2002.
“The event provided me with the image I was looking for – the way that the past – it was there at a time there was no ocean – is connected to the present.
“That root becomes an image that is repeated in different ways throughout the book through the lives of the characters.”
Bermudian by birth, Ms Barry lived overseas for more than 20 years including in England, France, The Gambia, Senegal and Seychelles.
She returned to Bermuda to work as a lecturer until her retirement in 2016.
She is the author of Endangered Species and Other Stories (2002) and a novel, Goree: Point of Departure (2010). She is a contributor to the anthology, So Many Islands (2018) and New Daughters of Africa (2019).
The book launch takes place at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute this Friday from 6pm. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP via bit.ly/drownedforest.
Ms Barry will be joined by Jacob Ross, associate editor for the publishing house Peepal Tree Press which published the book.
The Drowned Forest will be on sale at the event and in local book stores by the end of the month.
Mr Ross will also hold a “conversation” at the Bermuda College Library at 6pm on Tuesday where he will talk about writing and publishing.
For further information on the talk, please call Shelly Riley on 236-9000 ext 4381 or e-mail email@example.com
Both events are free and open to the public.