The inhabitants of an island walk into the sea. A man passes a jail cell's window, shouldering a wooden cross. And in the international shop of coffins, a story repeats itself, pointing toward an inevitable tragedy. If the facts of these stories are sometimes fantastical, the situations they describe are complex and all too real.
Love is the common theme that runs throughout the collection: a love with missed connections and heartbreak, a dangerous kind of love that momentarily raises Yanique’s characters out of the death-of-the-heart trance in which they live and then, with cruel indifference, drops them back into it. As the elliptical stories open up suddenly, and different narrative threads and characters are introduced, the canvas widens and mushrooms ... Her first collection of stories leaves the reader craving more.
What is at stake in these stories is not only a matter of racial and ethnic identity, however; How to Escape is also concerned with boundaries and divisions more generally ... One of the chief pleasures of reading this collection is experiencing the range of characters and voices that Yanique offers. She is capable of evoking a sense of a full life in just a few pages, and she successfully negotiates extremely varied times, places, and cultures in the space of a single story ... She is particularly good at capturing voices, both in the narration and in dialogue ... Most of the stories display Yanique’s talent at its strongest: conjuring up complex worlds that challenge us to think about the vexed question of who we are.
...a skillfully crafted collection of short stories that offer ample rewards—vivid characterizations, evocative language—at their finish lines ... Unlike a good deal of earnestly multicultural fiction, Yanique’s stories look beyond mere ethnicity to locate the subtler strands of human identity ... In her effort to cast Caribbean life in a magic light, Yanique sometimes relies on folklore’s well-worn tropes ... Yanique finds apt expression for her characters’ struggles in these short but urgent sprints.