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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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Your purchase helps support NPR programming. Tropic Deaththe blunt, specific title for Eric Walrond’s story collection, first published more than 85 years ago, couldn’t be more apt.

These 10 stories indeed have tropical settings — namely, British Guiana, Barbados and the Panama Canal Zone — and death is ever present, as palpable as the bludgeoning heat and suffocating racism that walfond many of walronv tales. The title’s terseness also signals to the reader she is about to enter an almost unbearably cruel world, one in which Walrond unsentimentally if elegantly observes his themes: The book, if you haven’t guessed already, is not comforting.

For one, there’s the challenging text.

As acclaimed Ralph Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad notes in his thoughtful, informative introduction, “Walrond’s commitment to dialect makes Tropic Death difficult reading at times. The regional dialects reproduced on the page are at times so hard to decipher that they must be read aloud to make sense of them. But there’s a much bigger reason why this book, which Rampersad calls “one of the outstanding works of fiction of the so-called Harlem Renaissance,” is so tough.

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These stories are disturbing reminders of how utterly vulnerable we are to the injustices of the heart and of community, to say nothing of a wider universe indifferent to our happiness.

Yet among all this brutality and sorrow, Walrond finds splendor, which he captures in his alluring prose.

Tropic Death : Eric Walrond :

In the story “Panama Seath about an independent woman who misses her chance at love, he writes this of the punishing Caribbean sun:. Eric Walrond was a writer and journalist during the Harlem Renaissance. Tropic Death was his only book.

A mixture of fire and gold, it burned, and burned — into one vast sulphurous mass.

It burned the houses, the walronv, the windowpanes. The burnt glass did amazing color somersaults — turned brown and gold and lavender and red.

It poured a burning liquid over the gap. It colored the water in the ponds a fierce dull yellowish gold. And in “The Palm Porch,” which details the ruthless machinations of a brothel within the Canal Ealrond, here’s his stark yet gorgeous portrayal of the ransacking of the land:.

Down by a stream watering a village of black French colonials, dredges began to work. More of the Zone pests, rubber-booted ones, tugged out huge iron pipes and safely laid them on the gutty bosom of the swamp. Then one windy night the dredges began a moaning noise.

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Tropic Death

It was the sea groaning and vomiting. Through the throat of the pipes it rattled, and spat stones — gold and emerald and amethyst. All sorts of juice the sea upheaved. It dug deep down, too, far into the recesses of its sprawling cosmos.

Back to a pre-geologic age it delved and brought up things. Walrond himself was born in in in what is now Guyana, and moved with his mother to Barbados inthen joined his father in Panama inwhere he became fluent in Spanish and worked as a reporter.

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

He moved to New York City inand eight years later saw published this remarkable story collection rooted in a world he knew so well. Reading Deaht Deathyou have to be impressed by his ability to confront life’s pitilessness in such exquisitely crafted prose. Read an excerpt of Tropic Death. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player.

Reviewer Oscar Villalon says the stories are “disturbing reminders of how utterly vulnerable we are to the injustices of the heart and of community. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. January 16, 7: