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You Alone are Dancing

Written by You Alone are Dancing for Northern Star on no date provided

Peepal Tree Press is a radical third world publishing house, based in Leeds, with a particular focus on the Caribbean, the South Asian diaspora and the Black British experience. Brenda Flanagan’s novel, You Alone Are Dancing is an excellent example of the startlingly high quality of their titles and their commitment to presenting Black issues seriously, cheerfully and without patronization.

You Alone Are Dancing is set on the fictitious Caribbean island of Santabella where the long-suffering residents of Rosehill are battling against a corrupt government and an unscrupulous American oil company. At the centre of many vivid voices is that of Beatrice. Young, intelligent, idealistic, Beatrice must cope with one disappointment after another. Her boyfriend wins the scholarship she deserved, her father has long since disappeared, she is raped, she is imprisoned. Beatrice is forced to evaluate the Law and to take actions which are illegal although probably justifiable. She has no choice, for although she is surrounded by loving people, she alone is dancing. She bears the burden not only of her own personal survival, but the survival of her entire community.

Flanagan does not settle for two-dimensional characters to pad out the well-structured plot of her novel. Every character we encounter, however briefly - whether a passenger in a taxi or the wife of a tailor - lives and breathes. The voices are human voices; psychologies are revealed through action. I began this book at midnight and didn’t put it down until I had read every word at 3:30 am. Surely, this provides testimony to a captivating novel.

This is a review of You Alone are Dancing

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