Land of Love and Drowning

Tiphanie Yanique

Riverhead Books, 2014

Agent: Elise Capron

A major debut from an award-winning writer: an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands.

In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowningis a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author's own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.


Recipient of the 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Foundation Award

Recipient of the 2015 Phyllis Wheatley Book Award for Fiction

Shortlisted for OCM Bocas Prize

One of NPR's best books of 2014

Named a Publishers Weekly "Best Summer Books of 2014"


“Bubbling with talent and ambition, this novel is a head-spinning Caribbean cocktail.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“An epic multigenerational tale…Through the voices and lives of its native people, Yanique offers an affecting narrative of the Virgin Islands that pulses with life, vitality, and a haunting evocation of place.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

This debut novel is so gorgeously written and such a joy to read that I doled it out to myself in 20-page sips to make the pleasure last as long as possible. What more can I say?! It is challenging in the way that the best books are–Yanique asks readers to explore difficult dynamics and sit with uncomfortable moments–and it makes for an immensely rewarding reading experience. I’m hesitant to say anything that will give away the plot. Come to this book with fresh eyes and an open mind, and be prepared to be dazzled.” 

"Land of Love and Drowning is a marvel-- epic and sweeping, yet intimate as a secret.  It's a tour de force combining naturalism and lyricism, myth and history.  This is a story that feels ancient and modern at the same time.  Tiphanie Yanique is a prodigiously talented new writer with a sharp voice, wicked humor, and compassion beyond measure."
Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

"A few years ago, Tiphanie Yanique wowed us with her phenomenal story collection, 'How to Escape from a Leper Colony'. Now she brings us this astonishing and wondrous novel. Multilayered, multigenerational and epic in both talent and scope, 'Land of Love and Drowning' is a stunning first novel about family, history, home and much, much more. Tiphanie Yanique's tremendous talents and incredible storytelling will astound you and leave you breathless.”
Edwidge Danticat

Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous incantation of a novel, a masterly fusion of place, language, and seductive storytelling that will hold you spellbound from its first pages to the last. Tiphanie Yanique takes on all of it—the bitter and the sweet, love and loss, betrayal and faith, as well as the distant machinations of state that push us about like so many minnows on ocean tides—and does so with a grace and a wisdom that are nothing short of profound. This book is an absolute marvel.”
Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

“What a miracle this book is. Tiphanie Yanique unites the sweep of history and the tenderest movements of the heart in writing so beautiful it’s breathtaking. Both an epic and a three-generation love poem, it’s irresistible.”
Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Sky Below

“In Land of Love and Drowning, Tiphanie Yanique paints a poignant, electrifying panorama of the Virgin Islands. Breaking writerly rules left and right, Yanique’s sentences seem effortless, free. Yet watch as these assemble into a family saga of unforgettable gravitas. A magnificent story, marvelously told.”
Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn