Rosa Shand The Gravity of Sunlight

ISBN 13: 9781569471920

The Gravity of Sunlight

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On the eve of Idi Amin's rise to power, a group of expatriates feels the political pressures, and one of them, Agnes, falls for a new arrival--a Polish gentleman she dubs the "Finn."

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About the Author:

Rosa Shand teaches at Converse College in South Carolina. She has received the Katherine Anne Porter Prize and other honors for her stories, and has been awarded several fellowships. This is her first novel.

From Publishers Weekly:

Set in Uganda in the months leading up to Idi Amin's coup d'?tat in 1971, Shand's debut novel chronicles the domestic life of Agnes, an American expatriate and part-time teacher. A devoted mother of three, Agnes is locked in an unfulfilling marriage with John, a college teacher and Lutheran deacon who tells her that she can and must will herself to love him. But Agnes dreams of passion, eventually entering an affair with Wulf, a Polish professor and colleague of her husband, as the political structure of Uganda grows daily more unstable. The dramatic political upheaval that looms in the novel's background intrudes little into Agnes's personal drama. As a narrator, she is extremely articulate on the subject of her emotional life, yet almost entirely mute about the events occurring in the country around her; information about changing social tides are gleaned through local rumor and gossip. But the plot is secondary in this dreamy novel; more important are the well-controlled writing and the detailed character descriptions that demand that readers pay attention to every word. Most chapters are constructed almost as a meditation, opening with a brief second-person, semi-instructional essay on African life, followed by a vignette extrapolating the essay's moral and philosophical musings. The novel is rife with luxurious passages of poetic prose, and though Shand chooses to downplay the drama of the Ugandan political landscape, she succeeds admirably in presenting Agnes's quotidian struggles to assimilate with African culture and to cope with her loveless marriage. (May)
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Rosa Shand
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