As Flies to Whatless Boys

As Flies to Whatless Boys has been longlisted for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award!

Winner of the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize!

Included in World Literature Today’s Nota Benes, Summer 2014

One of Edwidge Danticat’s Best Books of 2013, the New Yorker

A Favorite Novel of 2013, Tin House

As Flies to Whatless Boys

As Flies to Whatless Boys

In 1845 London, an engineer, philosopher, philanthropist, and bold-faced charlatan, John Adolphus Etzler, has invented machines that he thinks will transform the division of labor and free all men. He forms a collective called the Tropical Emigration Society (TES), and recruits a variety of London citizens to take his machines and his misguided ideas to form a proto-socialist, utopian community in the British colony of Trinidad.

Among his recruits is a young boy (and the book’s narrator) named Willy, who falls head-over-heels for the enthralling and wise Marguerite Whitechurch. Coming from the gentry, Marguerite is a world away from Willy’s laboring class. As the voyage continues, and their love for one another strengthens, Willy and Marguerite prove themselves to be true socialists, their actions and adventures standing in stark contrast to Etzler’s disconnected theories.

Robert Antoni’s tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humor, provides an unforgettable glimpse into nineteenth-century Trinidad & Tobago.

Review
:
“William’s account of young love attests to Antoni’s fluency in the poetry of nostalgia. In words as vibrant as the personalities he creates, Antoni deftly captures unconquered territories and the risks we’re willing to take exploring them.”
–Publishers Weekly

“The emotional influence of Willy’s narrative–his loving descriptions of the people who surround him–is profoundly effective…Strikes strong emotional chords.”
–Kirkus Reviews

“Antoni…has written a novel epic in scope that…is driven by outbursts of fine writing.”
–Booklist

“A rollicking 19th-century colonial tale blends history with imagination.”
–Library Journal

“Robert Antoni gracefully combines layers of idealism, love, and a plague of the Black Vomit in this historical novel.”
–World Literature Today

“It brings the travails and small delights of Willy Tucker to the centre stage of our imaginings, asking only that we accompany him on this unforgettable voyage.”
–Caribbean Beat

“This tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humour, provides an unforgettable glimpse into 19th-century T&T. The book’s narrator, Willy, falls headover-heels for the enthralling and wise Marguerite Whitechurch. Coming from the gentry, Marguerite is a world away from Willy’s labouring class.”
–The Trinidad Guardian, one of the Best Caribbean Books of the Year

“Reminds us that storytelling is fundamental to the human condition…A contending classic of postcolonial literature.”
–Trinidad Guardian, Review/2014 OCM Bocas Prize Feature

“Reminds us that storytelling is fundamental to the human condition…A contending classic of postcolonial literature.”
–Trinidad Guardian, 2014 OCM Bocas Prize Feature

“I have been hooked on Robert Antoni since his first novel, Divina Trace. His new one, As Flies to Whatless Boys, is a marvel of narrative and documents, which collide to create a book that is at times breathtaking and tragic and at other times laugh-out-loud hilarious.”
–Edwidge Danticat, who selected As Flies to Whatless Boys as a Best Book of 2013 for the New Yorker‘s Page-Turner Blog

“A bittersweet coming-of-age tale of tragedy, chicanery, high ideals, harsh realities, and the hard choice between love and family duty, As Flies to Whatless Boys is highly recommended.”
–Midwest Book Review

“As Flies to Whatless Boys is a kind of complex word game, a historical narrative in a lilting Caribbean accent, wrapped around with an oddball love story in a wild form of English that seems to create itself as it goes along. In between, snippets of contemporary records provide foils for both these linguistic inventions.”
–Historical Novel Society

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