A Tall History of Sugar tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man who was "born without skin," so that no one is able to tell what race he belongs to; and Arrienne Christie, his quixotic soul mate who makes it her duty in life to protect Moshe from the social and emotional consequences of his strange appearance. This story follows the couple's mysterious love affair from childhood to adulthood, from the haunted environs of rural Jamaica to the city of Kingston, and then to England.
This is Forbes’s fifth work of fiction, and her narrative confidence is both subtle and commanding. A Tall History of Sugar is a gift for grown-up fans of fairy tales and for those who love fiction that metes out hard and surprising truths. Forbes’s writing combines the gale-force imagination of Margaret Atwood with the lyrical pointillism of Toni Morrison ... Forbes offers translations of the Creole, so I didn’t have to guess any meanings or skim past the patois. Each shift into local language was more than merely colorful; it was emotionally and intellectually significant. This is a book for savoring, and the dialect is a rich layer I look forward to revisiting. I can only imagine how textured the audio version would be. I would have loved listening to the lilt of Jamaican patois; so much of the text feels as if it was meant to be heard, not just read.
Forbes’ novel, rich in metaphors and biblical and fairy-tale allusions, explores the cyclical nature of birth and death, and the overwhelming and terrifying power of love. It is also a forceful critique of colonialism ... A fascinating post-colonial blend of romance, social history, and myth.
This is Forbes’...fifth work of fiction, and she writes with the confidence and poetic nerve of a seasoned veteran ... Forbes lets her novel sing with all the languages of Jamaica and Britain. She has an uncanny knack for patois and dialect, including Jamaican English, the Queen’s English, and everything in between. In some ways this book tells a story of a love too deep to become romantic. In other ways it’s a novel of colonialism and its tragic aftermath of racism and economic despair. But most of all, the book is a journey. The characters are so vivid, their depictions so intimate, that the skin of the pages themselves almost pulse beneath the reader’s fingers. A powerful journey into the souls of two lovers, two countries, and the people caught in the wakes of empires.