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As Flies to Whatless Boys

"As Flies to Whatless Boys" has been longlisted for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award! Winner of the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize! Included in "World Literature Today"'s Nota Benes, Summer 2014 One of Edwidge Danticat's Best Books of 2013, the "New Yorker" A Favorite Novel of 2013, "Tin House" "William's account of young love attests to Antoni's fluency in the poetry of nostalgia. In words as vibrant as the personalities he creates, Antoni deftly captures unconquered territories and the risks we're willing to take exploring them."--"Publishers Weekly" "The emotional influence of Willy's narrative--his loving descriptions of the people who surround him--is profoundly effective...Strikes strong emotional chords."--"Kirkus Reviews" "Antoni...has written a novel epic in scope driven by outbursts of fine writing."--"Booklist" "A rollicking 19th-century colonial tale blends history with imagination."--"Library Journal" "Robert Antoni gracefully combines layers of idealism, love, and a plague of the Black Vomit in this historical novel." --"World Literature Today" "It brings the travails and small delights of Willy Tucker to the centre stage of our imaginings, asking only that we accompany him on this unforgettable voyage."--"Caribbean Beat" "This tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humour, provides an unforgettable glimpse into 19th-century T&T. The book's narrator, Willy, falls headover-heels for the enthralling and wise Marguerite Whitechurch. Coming from the gentry, Marguerite is a world away from Willy's labouring class."--"The Trinidad Guardian," one of the Best Caribbean Books of the Year "Reminds us that storytelling is fundamental to the human condition...A contending classic of postcolonial literature."--"Trinidad Guardian," Review/2014 OCM Bocas Prize Feature "Reminds us that storytelling is fundamental to the human condition...A contending classic of postcolonial literature."--"Trinidad Guardian," 2014 OCM Bocas Prize Feature "I have been hooked on Robert Antoni since his first novel, "Divina Trace." His new one, "As Flies to Whatless Boys," is a marvel of narrative and documents, which collide to create a book that is at times breathtaking and tragic and at other times laugh-out-loud hilarious."--Edwidge Danticat, who selected "As Flies to Whatless Boys" as a Best Book of 2013 for the "New Yorker"'s Page-Turner Blog "A bittersweet coming-of-age tale of tragedy, chicanery, high ideals, harsh realities, and the hard choice between love and family duty, "As Flies to Whatless Boys" is highly recommended."--"Midwest Book Review" "As Flies to Whatless Boys" is a kind of complex word game, a historical narrative in a lilting Caribbean accent, wrapped around with an oddball love story in a wild form of English that seems to create itself as it goes along. In between, snippets of contemporary records provide foils for both these linguistic inventions."--"Historical Novel Society" In 1845 London, an engineer, philosopher, philanthropist, and bold-faced charlatan, John Adolphus Etzler, has invented machines that he thinks will transform the division of labor and free all men.He forms a collective called the Tropical Emigration Society (TES), and recruits a variety of London citizens to take his machines and his misguided ideas to form a proto-socialist, utopian community in the British colony of Trinidad. Among his recruits is a young boy (and the book's narrator) named Willy, who falls head-over-heels for the enthralling and wise Marguerite Whitechurch. Coming from the gentry, Marguerite is a world away from Willy's laboring class. As the voyage continues, and their love for one another strengthens, Willy and Marguerite prove themselves to be true socialists, their actions and adventures standing in stark contrast to Etzler's disconnected theories. Robert Antoni's tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humor, provides an unforgettable glimpse into nineteenth-century Trinidad & Tobago.
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About the Author

Robert Antoni is the author of the landmark novel "Divina Trace, " for which he received a Commonwealth Writers' Prize and an NEA grant. His other books include "Blessed Is the Fruit, My Grandmother's Erotic Folktales, " and "Carnival." He was a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow (for his work on "As Flies to Whatless Boys"), and recently received the NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad & Tobago National Library. He now lives in Manhattan and teaches in the graduate writing program at the New School University.


"Antoni has a fine ear for cultural tensions and a wicked sense of humor."--"Ocean Drive Magazine" "As Flies to Whatless Boys" by Trinidadian Robert Antoni is a tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humour, and provides an unforgettable glimpse into 19th-century T&T."--"Trinidad Express Newspapers" "If you are a smart reader who likes something different, this will make you happy."--Spacebeer (Blog) "A pleasure of a read. A lovely artifact of a book. A delight on many levels, and a deeply felt, deeply moving novel."--Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud (Blog) "A marvel of a novel, layered in histories, Robert Antoni's unique and engaging "As Flies to Whatless Boys" is an unforgettable and matchless work of fiction. A crowning achievement in an exceptional body of work by this amazingly talented writer."--Edwidge Danticat, author of "Claire of the Sea Light" "As Flies to Whatless Boys" is an inventive, witty, comic romance that is as much about history and adventure as it is about language. With virtuosic attention to language, Robert Antoni delightfully explores the written word in all its forms--as letters, as e-mails, as reportage, as narration, as archives--to tell stories, to paint characters, to demonstrate the range and integrity of English and its dialects, and to edge us closer to ourselves as equally human beings."--Earl Lovelace, author of "Is Just a Movie" "As Flies to Whatless Boys" is a brilliant novel that is rivetingly localized in a distant time and an untouched place, and yet somehow speaks vibrantly to this present age and to the universal human condition. Robert Antoni is a treasure of our literary culture."--Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" "Like the preserved hummingbirds at its center, this novel is a tender and strange object, referencing something no longer with us, but maintained in its beauty as art."--Tiphanie Yanique, author of "How to Escape from a Leper Colony" "Robert Antoni is one of the great comic writers of the New World--that sweaty, sun-blasted, eternally baroque, dystopia where our tears, issued from laughter or sorrow or more often both, have the potency of overproof rum. "As Flies to Whatless Boys" is a mishmash merriment of an adventure story, an island of luscious prose in a sea of delight."--Bob Shacochis, author of "The Woman Who Lost Her Soul" "Antoni is an audacious storyteller, mining his very own language and ways of telling from the linguistic cornucopia of Trinidad. His story is moving and is also hilarious."--Lawrence Scott, author of "Light Falling on Bamboo" "Robert Antoni doesn't make giant steps. He makes quantum--and sometimes hilarious--leaps past whatever we called metafiction to the same territory as Richard Powers and David Foster Wallace. But like those men and unlike nearly everybody else, he never forgets that at the core of it all you've still got to tell a rip-roaring story."--Marlon James, author of "The Book of Night Women"

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