Walcott's masterpiece, and an epic to rival Homer.
Derek Walcott was born in St Lucia, in the West Indies, in 1930. The author of many plays and books of poetry, he was awarded the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1988, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. He now divides his time between homes in St Lucia and New York.
This magnificent modern epic by poet-playwright Walcott ( The Arkansas Testament ) follows the wanderings of a present-day Odysseus and the inconsolable sufferings of those who are displaced and traveling with trepidation toward their homes. Written in seven circling books and magically fluid tercets, the poem illuminates the classical past and its motifs through an extraordinary cast of contemporary characters from the island of Santa Lucia: humble fishermen Achilles, Philoctete and Hector; a feverishly beautiful house servant, Helen, who incites her own Trojan War; a local seer, Seven Seas; and the narrator himself, who wanders to the States, to Europe and back again although he knows, ``the nearer home, the deeper our fears increase, / that no house might come to meet us on our own shore.'' Singularly ambitious, and as moving as the works of its namesake, Omeros (Greek for ``Homer'') remains accessible despite its complexity and divergent strains, which include the privations of Native Americans, African natives and exiled English colonials. (July)
If you can buy only one Walcott title, get this Carribean epic. Farrar will release his newest, The Bounty, in June.
"No poet rivals Mr. Walcott in humor, emotional depth, lavish
inventiveness in language, or the ability to express the thoughts
of his characters and compel the reader to follow the swift
mutations of ideas and images in their minds. This wonderful story
moves in a spiral, replicating human thought, and in the end,
surprisingly, it makes us realize that history, all of it, belongs
to us."-Mary Lefkowitz, "The New York Times Book Review" (an
Editors' Choice/Best Book of 1990 selection)
"Characters come fully and movingly to life in Walcott's hands; black and white are treated with equal understanding and sympathy as they go their complicated ways . . . Wit and verbal play . . . enliven every page of this extraordinary poem . . . A constant source of surprise and delight from stanza to stanza, a music so subtle, so varied, so exquisitely right that it never once, in more than eight thousand lines, strikes a false note."-Bernard Knox, "The New York Review of Books"