Liam said: Tropic Death is vivid, lyrical, harshly real and at times quite moving. Eric Walrond (–), in his only book, injected a profound Caribbean. Eric Walrond’s short story collection, Tropic Death is a black modernist masterpiece that portrays Colón, the Atlantic terminus of the Panama Canal, as an. Finally available after three decades, a lost classic of the Harlem Renaissance that Langston Hughes acclaimed for its “hard poetic beauty.” Eric Walrond.

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Tropic Death by Eric Walrond. Eric Walrond —in his only book, injected a profound Caribbean sensibility into black literature. His work was closest to that of Jean Toomer and Zora Neale Hurston with its striking use of dialect and its insights into the daily lives of the people around him.

Growing up in British Guiana, Barbados, tropif Panama, Walrond first published Tropic Death to great accl Eric Walrond —in his only book, injected a profound Caribbean sensibility into black literature. This book of stories viscerally charts the days of men working stone quarries or building the Panama Canal, of women tending gardens and rearing needy children.

Early on addressing issues of skin color and class, Walrond imbued his stories with a remarkable compassion for lives controlled by the whims of nature. Despite his early celebrity, he died in London in with minimal recognition given to his passing. Paperbackpages. Published September 23rd by Liveright first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Tropic Deathplease sign up. Lists with This Book.

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Tropic Death is vivid, lyrical, harshly real and at times quite moving.

‘Tropic Death’ Presents Life’s Horrors In Beautiful Prose

However first it should be warned that the language is very arcane for a modern reader. Though short, it’s not a leisurely read. The book presents a collection of short sketches from around the Caribbean and Central America, and despite being publicized as a literary contribution of the Harlem Renaissance it presumes a high level of familiarity with the geography and social climate of the region. Here is an extract from th Tropic Death is vivid, lyrical, harshly real and at times quite moving.

Here is an extract from the beginning of the short story “The White Snake”: On the banks of a bilgy lamahau, the eeliest street-stream in Bordeaux, a row of Negro peasant lodgings warmly slept.


It was a vile, backward crescent reeking in brats and fiendish lusts. Cocabe among its inkish rice-growers extended to gorillas sentenced to the dungeons of Surinam, Portuguese settlers who’d gone black, Chinks pauperized in the Georgetown fire of ’05 and Calcutta coolies mixing rotie at dusk to the chorus of crickets and crapeaux moaning in the black watery gut. The cast is mainly black, the short stories covering towns in Hondouras, Barbadoes, Guinea and Panama.

White characters rarely appear except in roles of policing authority, and instead Walrond’s focus is on the strained race-relations between coloured groups. As in the block quote above, the narrator’s casual use of ethnic slurs like “Chink” “Cholo”, “Nigger”, “Chiggah-foot” are frequent. All human relationships are pressurized and tensions are continually suspended.

This is especially thematic in the title story “Tropic Death”, in which a middle class black child, Gerald Bright, is repeatedly interrupted from his hobby of staring at the sea to be immersed in the problems of the poor children around him and the troubled reunion of his mother and father. The romantic descriptions of the climate are lyrical but seem to always burden the characters with more problems: The sun baptised the sea.

O tireless, sleepless sun! It burned and kissed things.

It baked the ship into a loose, disjointed state. Only the brave hoarse breezes at dusk prevented it from leaving her so. It refused to keep things glued. It fried sores and baked bunions, browned and blackened faces, reddened and blistered eyes.

It lured to the breast of the sea sleepy sharks ready to pounce upon prey. Death by arbitrary accident and disease is never far from possibility in these collections of thrown-together people. There is so much dispute and grievance and aggressive heat in the book that it’s a fairly downbeat experience, all round.

The occasions of contented leisure and friendship, such as at the start of “The Wharf Rats”, are in short supply – usually relations are stern, worried or physically aggressive. Few characters are particularly likable, as a result, and the novel has no real psychological depth. I had to take the qualities of the moods and pictures over the lack of detailed characterisation.

But having said that, the unnecessarily phoneticised Caribbean creole dialogue alongside the elaborate prose lead to serious issues of reading flow.

I made a little glossary as I read that I would have benefited from had I known from the start: Tropic Death provides a vivid series of glimpses into the lives of people usually in the background of such exotic novels. Reading it, I thought that the style was strikingly similiar to Joseph Conrad, but rather than following Nostromo’s jeopardised mine-owners, it follows the lives of the people in in the Sulaco pits, or digging the grand Panama Canal project for the highly financed European industrialists.


The itinerant nature of the short-story narrative dovetails with the rootless characters Walrond portrays, and shows a sort of life that isn’t lived in fixed, stately buildings, but in suitcases and crowded ferry-trips: In constant attraction to limited opportunities.

A superb gift of a book as far as lyrical beauty and storytelling prowess. Hemingway of the Caribbean, if you’ll allow.

‘Tropic Death’ Presents Life’s Horrors In Beautiful Prose : NPR

The beautifully rendered patois makes this book nearly qualify as a foreign dalrond and encourages readers to slow down. Incredible imagery and often very funny.

A little hard to read because of dialect but excellent. I din’t understand much of it but the characters manage reath touch you for the briefest moment that they appear. Blake Scott rated it really liked it Mar 12, Joel Fishbane rated it liked it Apr 05, Michael Jenkins rated it really liked it Jul 05, Paula rated it did not like it Dec 28, Petrina rated it really liked it May 19, Scott Fraser rated it really liked it Dec 29, Hey rated it really liked it Sep 28, Amy Tran rated it liked it Jul 09, Yadira rated it it was ok Mar 05, Aaron Robertson rated it really liked it Aug 24, Stephanie rated it liked it Jul 18, Chelsey rated it it was ok Nov 17, Peter rated it really liked it Mar 01, Melissa Segovia rated it it was ok Jul 02, Laura Benton rated it liked it Jun 10, Anita rated it it was amazing Jan 12, Samantha rated it liked it Apr 23, Sebastian rated it really liked it Apr 16, Gina rated it liked it Sep 03, Andre rated it really liked it Oct 29, Joanne rated it it was amazing May 04, Eloise rated it really liked it Aug 20, Tori Elliott rated it liked it Nov 07, Esther Ritiau rated it really liked it Jan 21, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

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