"Writing is a cover for necromancy”, Carmen Innocencia accuses her creator, Flamingo Tongue, a young Jamaican writer. Carmen is not the only one of Flamingo’s creations to confront her author, for her characters and their tragic, heartening story come vividly alive, perhaps too alive, and just to make sure she can control them, Flamingo makes doll figures of them, but even then… There is Alva Donovan, blinded in childhood, with one seeing eye, one dreaming eye, with whom Flamingo exchanges shoes and in whom she begins to fear she will lose herself. There are the other members of the Donovan family: Dahlia, Paul aka Made in China, and their parents Mama Milly and Daddy Clive the bee-keeper whose sudden, violent deaths set up the patterns of separation and eventual reconnection and healing that run through the novel. As Carmen’s accusation suggests, this is a novel set at the cross-roads between the living and the dead – and the cemetery literally becomes the refuge of the orphaned children – between the harsh realities of the violence which spills over from an election campaign and a world where dreams, spirit possession and women who become snails are just as real. This, after all, is Jamaica where in Bob Marley’s words, ‘there’s a natural mystic flowing through the air.’ This is not a story of straight lines, for with those, Flamingo discovers, you miss the crossings.
With the smells of damp earth and Jamaica’s healing herbs, the sounds of the songs that weave through the narrative, and illustrated with photographs of the dolls, and the sketches Flamingo cannot stop herself from adding to her notebooks margins, this is a novel to delight all the senses.