Magazine article World Literature Today

The Tower of the Antilles

Magazine article World Literature Today

The Tower of the Antilles

Article excerpt

Achy Obejas. The Tower of the Antilles. Brooklyn. Akashic Books. 2017. 158 pages.

Achy Obejas's new book, The Tower of the Antilles, amply fulfills the promise of the author's earlier work. These stories are about borders-physical and emotional, geographical and linguistic-and about the symbols of borders: passports, visas, pain disguised in absurdity.

Her protagonists are from an island where the greatest achievement, as Obejas says in one of the stories, is leaving. One threatens suicide, the ultimate act of departure. Another collects boats that have been cast adrift and displays them in his neighborhood. For another, the strange twists of a relationship embody every sort of border.

In "Kimberle," the author deftly mixes three-partner sex with prized cellophanewrapped first editions that go missing mysteriously. A young woman who threatens suicide is taken in by the protagonist, who works in a smokehouse. A serial murderer is on the loose. The tale, like all in the collection, unfolds in perfect sync.

In another story, there are lovers, exlovers, and lots of sounds: a radiator hissing, a mob shouting, a teapot whistling, the drone of the television, the zzzzz of a zipper, the buzz of a fly, traffic noises, doors opening and shutting, things rustling, people breathing. …

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