Commonwealth Book Prize Regional Winner
Dulcinea Evers, a young Jamaican artist who has reinvented herself in the USA as the flamboyant Cinea Verse, has died in unclear circumstances. But who was Dulcinea? Her friend, Cheryl, who is carrying her ashes back to New York from her Jamaican funeral, has one story, but the narratives of the other people in Dulci’s life suggest that not even Cheryl’s version is the whole one.
In the words of Dulci’s angry, disappointed father, her ineffectual mother, her middle-aged married lover and the angry wife who came after her with a machete, the art critic husband whom she used to get American residency, and Cheryl, the friend who has her own secrets, facets of Dulci begin to emerge: talented, reckless and, as we see when Aunt Mavis begins to speak, fundamentally alone. And it is Aunt Mavis, the solitary and reluctant seer, who understands the true challenge of Dulci’s gift.
In telling Dulci’s story through those who speak to her, Alecia McKenzie has skilfully organised a narrative that is both multi-layered in offering deepening cycles of understanding, and has the onward thrust of progressive revelation. There is space, too, for readers to come to their own conclusions.