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Dragons Cry

by Tessa McWatt

If home is where the heart is, in Tessa McWatt’s world, everyone is in trouble. Dragons Cry is a novel about exile – not only from country and culture of origin, but from those to whom we are supposedly closest. McWatt explores the alienation and disillusioning distance between family, friends, and lovers in this sensitive, articulate, but truly depressing portrayal of the disintegration of emotional ties over time and distance.

Edwin and Grace are driven by political violence from Guyana to Barbados, where they spend the rest of their lives lamenting the loss of home. Their eldest son, David, leaves the island for New York City to pursue his dream of being a musician. His aspirations are thwarted by discrimination and poverty. His younger brother, Simon, leaves for university in Canada, where he lives a comfortable but solitary existence. The two brothers are reacquainted in Toronto, and through David, Simon meets Faye, a classical musician emerging from a damaging relationship.

In the wake of David’s death, Simon and Faye embark on the separate courses of introspection that move this story. Theirs are sad but compelling stories of loss, told against the backdrop of the disquieting tension between lovers who can no longer communicate, and family members who never really could. There is no peace at the end of this chronicle of loss – a frustration for the reader who begs the characters to speak and be whole again.

McWatt carries us through time and geography with the grace and ease of someone who is intimately acquainted with different worlds. The beauty of her poetic passages, though, is undermined by overwritten and conspicuously researched sections on topics as diverse as Chinese astrology, the artificial insemination of cows, and the history of salt. Here, McWatt surrenders her own voice to that of a far less interesting unnamed and characterless authority.


Reviewer: Camilla Gibb

Publisher: Riverbank Press


Price: $21.99

Page Count: 208 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 1-896332-13-7

Released: Nov.

Issue Date: 2000-12

Categories: Fiction: Novels

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