The chosen place is Bourneville, a remote, devastated part of a Caribbean island; the timeless people are its inhabitants—black, poor, inextricably linked to their past enslavement. When the advance team for an ambitious American research project arrives, the tense, ambivalent relationships that evolve, between natives and foreigners, black and whites, haves and have-nots, keenly dramatize the vicissitudes of power.
“An important and moving book . . . Marshall is as wise as she is bold, for in compromising neither her politics nor her understanding of people, she makes better sense of both.”—Village Voice