Friday, May 8, 2009

Life, death and everything in between

As She Returns A Novel by Steinberg Henry of Dominica
By Thomson Fontaine

Steinberg Henry of Dominica has written a beautiful work of art that is delightfully entertaining yet deeply contemplative and revealing. In his debut novel “As She Returns”, the author unashamedly tackles the issue of life and death that we sometimes tend to disregard as we go about our daily affairs. Life to some extent encumbers us, distorts our view of who we are, why we are where we are, what makes us, and then the final intrigue of death.

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As She Returns is powerfully provocative.
For the author, his self-searching bubbles to the surface after the death of his mom. This transcendent moment, so revealing, so utterly transforming. “After news of her death, because of what I felt inside, I was convinced that my mother who carried me had to be the most interesting woman beyond her overt simplicity and lightness of being.”

It was this eighty-one year old woman whose thoughts, actions, and intentions were colored by her relationship to Christ and that gave rise to these deliberations. And so began the journey that takes the reader along with the author through the searching psalms, prayers and chants, so much a part of his mother’s life, and now it is his inheritance.

The reader cannot help but be moved by the strength of the author’s mother. Over thirty-five years she labored in the banana industry. “Geest fed her family; her labor kept our family alive.” Even when she developed a dreadful eye disorder she soldiered on; “in her gracefulness, this woman had the courage to count blindness as a trial.” It was her strength that belied the weakness and frailty of human flesh, which would ultimately succumb to death.

It is that fascination with death, not death itself, but what it represents, its expression, and meaning that brings the book to life. The interpretation is wonderfully profound, touching on Caribbean religious history, African descent, sickness and cure. Life interchanges with death, an eternity of thought; and so the author argues that the eternal is already upon us, was maybe always with us, in all of us.

As She Returns is an extraordinary read. An unusual relating of the special themes in life that matters most. The strength of a mother, the ability to deal with adversity, to provide, raise children, serve your God, and do well. And then so much more.

This is a book for everyone. For those interested in Dominican culture, thought and traditions, this work is particularly revealing. “In the yard of every soucouyant or those whom we cared to call witch, grew a diversity of plants and herbs…they were the mystic women about whom numerous stories were told.”

The stories are mystifying, matched only by the brilliance of the storyteller. It is powerfully provocative and forces us to take a harder and deeper look at life and death, and at everything in between. What a read, what a journey!

Steinberg Henry was born in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Eastern
Caribbean. His life story has taken him from teacher to broadcast-journalism to
corridors of universities. Like love for his island, he has not forgotten the
course of his journey.

He previously wrote a sixty-page reflection on Dominica's World Creole Music Festival entitled 'A Thick Environment: Notes on Dominica's World Creole Music Festival'. It was published by SHINC Productions and printed by Paramount Press.

As She Returns can be purchased at and by calling 301 695 1707

PublishAmerica is the home of 30,000 talented authors. PublishAmerica is a
traditional publishing company whose primary goal is to encourage and promote
the works of new, previously undiscovered writers. Like more mainstream
publishers, PublishAmerica pays its authors advances and royalties, makes its
books available in both the United States and Europe through all bookstores.

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Congratulations on your dedicated publication Stein - this sounds like a story that every one of us who has been raised by a Caribbean mother-grandmother-greatmother and then suffers the lost knows so well but finds so difficult to articulate. I cannot wait to have a read. Keep up the good stuff.
Gerald La Touche (Frontline poets/ Word Sound Power / Dominica Writers Guild)- writers right on!
Brilliant review of what I'm sure is a great book. I cannot wait to read it!
Embracing, engaging, scintillatingly nurturing. As I unfold the pages of "As She Returns" visions of my own returning flash before me. Stein reminds us that we will one day all return; as we must. However, it is the love and caring and simple joys we share now that pave the path and give us access to eternal rest. Stein traverses spirit and touches soul. Reminds me of a story written by the author in "Sein La", a buddung magazine started by a group of imaginative writers and philosophers at Portsmouth years ago. We are reminded that our encounter with sickness, and the pain of silence connects us to our journey, and that encounter enriches our thoughts thus giving us peace. Thank you Stein!
Congratulations to Stein on a great book!!!

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