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parsed(2024-04-19) - pubdate: 2024-04-19
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pub date: 1713502800
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Off-White

April 19, 2024 | Trade paperback
ISBN: 9781949641257
$28.95
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Description

It's 1966 in Suriname, on the Caribbean coast of South America, and the long shadow of colonialism still hangs over the country. Grandma Bee is the proud, cigar-smoking matriarch of the Vanta family, which is an intricate mix of Creole, Maroon, French, Indian, Indigenous, British, and Jewish backgrounds. But Grandma Bee is dying, a cough has settled deep in her lungs. 

The approaching end has her thinking about the members of her family she's lost, and especially one of her favorite granddaughters, Heli, who has been sent away to the Netherlands because of an affair with her white teacher. Ultimately, there's only one question Bee must answer: What is a family? If her descendants are spread across the world, don't look similar, don't share a heritage, and don't even know each other, what bond will they have once she has died?

A moving portrait of a woman finding peace in the legacy that is her daughters and granddaughters, 
Off-White, keenly translated by Lucy Scott and David McKay, is also a searing and complex portrait of male violence, the legacy of colonialism, and a dismantling of what it means to be "white". Written after a nearly 20-year break from publishing, Off-White is another masterpiece from the only Surinamese author to win the prestigious Dutch Literature Award.

About this Author

In 1966, at the age of 19,Astrid Roemer emigrated from Suriname to the Netherlands. She identifies herself as a cosmopolitan writer. Exploring themes of race, gender, family, and identity, her poetic, unconventional prose stands in the tradition of authors such as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. She was awarded the P.C. Hooft Prize in 2016, and the three-yearly Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren) in 2021.



Lucy Scott is a translator of Caribbean literature written in Dutch and French. Her short story and essay translations thus far have appeared in Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee Review and in Wilderness House Literary Review . She's the translator of Astrid Roemer's On a Woman's Madness (Two Lines Press, 2022) and Off-White (Two Lines Press, 2024).



David McKay is a literary translator in The Hague, best known for his translations of novels by the Flemish author Stefan Hertmans, including The Ascent. Other recent publications include Charlotte van den Broeck's Bold Ventures, described in the New York Times as 'a small marvel: a monument to human beings continuing to reach for the skies.' He has been shortlisted for various translation prizes and won the Vondel Prize for Hertmans's War and Turpentine. He will serve as the American Literary Translators Association Dutch-English mentor for the second time in 2023. In recent years, he has translated work by various Dutch and Flemish playwrights, including Freek Marien, Anna Carlier, Abke Haring and Jibbe Willems. His translation of Marien's The Wetsuitman is being premiered in 2022 by The Cherry Arts (Ithaca, NY) and Foreign Affairs (London) and has been published in The Mercurian."

ISBN: 9781949641257
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 377
Publisher: Two Lines Press
Published: 2024-04-19

Reviews

"Off-White...echoes [Roemer's] earlier themes--the racial and sexual dynamics of Suriname's multiethnic society--but with a larger scope, examining several generations of a Surinamese family in the years between World War II and the 1960s...Roemer is part of a larger tradition of the Americas, and her work, and its recognition in the United States, helps place other Surinamese stories in a broader context."
--Anderson Tepper, The New York Times

"Roemer is equally interested in the (mis)treatment of women and race, particularly in the case of Heli, who has a married boyfriend back in Suriname while pursuing another frustrating relationship in the Netherlands. Roemer (via translators Scott and McKay) sustains a steady, patient delivery and deftly shifts perspectives among the characters....The narrative ripples with the feeling of history." 

--Kirkus Reviews

"It is a breathtaking story, written in rich, daring, symbolic language that makes the familiar strange--thrilling to the very last sentence." 
--


"Through the history of the Vanta family, in
Off-White Astrid Roemer depicts 1960s Suriname. Class, skin colour and conservative sexual morality dominate everyday life." 
--De Standard 


"A moving portrait of a family whose members diverge to different continents, education, beliefs and death." 
--Humo 


"
Off-White gets under the reader's skin. Post-war Paramaribo feels vividly close right up to the last page." 
--De Volkskrant 



PRAISE FOR ON A WOMAN'S MADNESS 

Shortlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature

"In prose full of sensory description...and evocative recurrent images of snakes and orchids, [Roemer] follows her young protagonist, Noenka, from a brief marriage into a voyage of sexual and existential self-discovery....Noenka--young, queer, Black, Jewish, and neither married nor fully single--is in a precarious position, and real danger seems always to be around the bend, alongside the 'incurable illness of True Love.' By the end,
On a Woman's Madness is plainly a love story, but one that reminds readers that, more often than not, our social conditions matter just as much as the company we keep."
--Lily Meyer, NPR


"The novel is saturated with pain, drama, pleasure, and violence, which may rightly invite comparison to classics by Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, although Roemer's writing style is remarkable in its own right....The world Noenka lived in didn't have room for her kind of love or personhood, and she suffered for it. Yet somehow, by the end of the novel, Roemer's heroine hasn't abandoned the love she's suffered for. This seems miraculous, and it is but one reason to be thankful for this long-overdue translation of one of her most important works."
--Harvard Review


"A stunning tale of love and survival anchored by Noenka's unflagging honesty and Roemer's embrace of the contradictions, ambiguity, and mystery that characterize real life...The miracle of Roemer's novel is not only the beauty with which she narrates Noenka's life but also the strength of spirit displayed by her characters. Finding beauty and love within any imprisonment is a glimpse of the divine in a person. Roemer's novel glimmers with this holy light even in the darkest night."
--Elizabeth Gonzalez James, Southwest Review


"
On a Woman's Madness, like its narrator, refuses to be one thing or another, but lives in the rich realm that lies between binaries, where awe and astonishment thrive. Here, memory and desire, like the serpents who dwell within Roemer's pages, lurk and coil and crush and consume us. I don't know if I've ever read a novel that so overwhelmed me with pulsing, coursing life."
--Kent Wascom, author of The New Inheritors

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