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Bermudian author to release debut novel

Bermuda author Liz Jones (File photograph)

Bermudian author Elizabeth J Jones releases her debut novel next week – at the age of 69.

A Dark Iris, partly inspired by the writer’s time as a teacher at the Berkeley Institute in the 1970s and partly by her art class with Sharon Wilson, will be launched at an event at Bermuda National Library in Hamilton on Thursday, June 27 at 6pm.

The novel, which explores the infamous story of a slave burned alive at the stake in 1730 through the eyes of a schoolgirl in the 1970s, was shortlisted for the 2018 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.

It has been published by Blouse and Skirt Books and will be distributed to 2,500 schools across the Caribbean It is also on sale at Bookmart, on Reid Street.

Jones said: “When I came to Bermuda as a young woman, I knew nothing about the island’s history at all. But I was fortunate to be given a temporary teaching post at the Berkeley Institute where I learned from colleagues and students alike about the effects of racism and colonialism on Bermuda, which for many years were barely, if at all, mentioned in the history books.

“Nearly 40 years later, I wanted to fulfill my dream of writing a YA novel about Bermuda. It seemed to me very important I should not insult my young readers by prettifying the island and omitting politically and socially harsh realities, particularly given my novel is set during the turbulent years of the 1970s.”

The book’s heroine, Rebekah Eve, is a brilliant young artist whose visions and paintings reveal a new twist on the horrifying tale of Sally Bassett and her granddaughter Bek. It uses magic realism to explore history and identity.

Jones will take part in a Q&A and sign books at the June 27 launch. She is also set to share a panel with Eloise Williams, author of Gaslight, at the Edinburgh Festival in August.