I wish I would have had a copy of Johanna Skibsrud’s Island 30 years ago when I was studying Heart of Darkness in British Literature class at university. If I did, I would have had the patience to read all the way through Joseph Conrad’s story of moral corruption. (20 years later I gave it another go, and you’d be pleased to note I read it in its entirety and appreciated its brilliance.).
Skibsrud’s reimagining of Heart of Darkness is a timely novel in the age of “us” and “them”, a mentality that seems exacerbated by the current political situation. This novel forces us to contemplate our role in the various structure that form our identity, be it political, historical or political. It reminds us that governments can be built on precarious scaffolds that strive more towards power than people.
The story is told from the point of view of two characters that exist on opposite ends of the pollical spectrum, Lota, a young revolutionary, and Racheal a “first secretary” of the foreign service working at the “Empires” embassy. Both women struggle in their respective realities using memories of their past in an effort to make sense of their present.
Island is a novel I would seriously consider using in my classroom. Not only does it fit perfectly with the curricular themes of “identity”, “nationalism”, and “globalization” it also is worthy of literary study.
I recieved a copy of this novel from Netgalley
Island comes out September 24 2019