An unflinching look at a multi-ethnic society that is vibrant and joyous but riddled with corruption.
Coconut trees. Carnival. Rum and coke. To many outsiders, these idyllic images represent the supposed easy life in Caribbean nations such as Trinidad and Tobago. However, the reality is far different for those who live there—a society where poverty and patriarchy savagely rule, and where love and revenge often go hand in hand.
Written in a combination of English and Trinidad Creole, Pleasantview reveals the dark side of the Caribbean dream. In this novel-in-stories about a fictional town in Trinidad, we meet a political candidate who sets out to slaughter endangered turtles for fun, while his rival candidate beats his “outside-woman,” so badly she ends up losing their baby. On the night of a political rally, the abused woman exacts a very public revenge, the trajectory of which echoes through Pleasantview, ending with one boy introducing another boy to a gun and to an ideology which will help him aim the weapon.
Merging the beauty and brutality of Trinidadian culture evoked by writers such as Ingrid Persaud and Claire Adam with the linguistic experimentation of Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, Pleasantview is a landmark work from an important new voice in international literary fiction.
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT PLEASANTVIEW
“The residents of Pleasantview come to vivid light in this extraordinary debut from Celeste Mohammed. Each slice of life in this Trinidadian village cuts clean to the bone, revealing how people are both complicated and complicit in the way we break each other’s hearts and bodies. From the riveting opening to the aching end, Mohammed’s gift for giving voice to each character is glorious.”
Tracey Baptiste, New York Times bestselling author
“In one of Chekov’s stories, a character says that every happy man should have someone who taps at his door with a little hammer, reminding him that there are unhappy people in the world. Reading Celeste Mohammed’s novel-in-stories makes me think of that magical little tap–except that the door opens not to a vision of unhappiness, but to a world crammed with life that you never knew existed.
Claire Adam, Winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize 2019
“When reading Celeste Mohammed’s Pleasantview, you aren’t where you are at all. You are exactly where she puts you: smack in the middle of several mangled stories so thick with Trinidadian culture that you can not come away from this novel unlearned. Pungent and searing, this is a refreshing portrait of island life told in short stories that only Mohammed could craft with such candor and movement. Pleasantview guts our ability to ride the binary of victim or saint, human or monster. Here, no resident’s hands are clean and all are pinned against the wall of circumstance. A novel bursting with wisdom and humanity, it’s almost hard to believe that this book is Mohammed’s debut. These tales are ones you return to again and again.”
Candice Iloh, 2020 National Book Award Finalist
ABOUT CELESTE MOHAMMED
Celeste has been a lawyer since 2001, but she has been telling stories all her life.
Celeste’s goal is to dispel all myths about island-life and island-people, and to highlight the points of intersection between Caribbean and North American interests. In particular, she aims to showcase Trinidad’s entrenched political, racial, and class alliances; the generosity (and yet, cruelty) of the average Trini; the sense of optimism (and yet, harsh reality) which permeates everyday interaction; and the musicality and resonance of Caribbean creole (kriol) expression.
Celeste is a lawyer-turned author. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, she graduated from Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction). Her work has appeared in The New England Review, Litmag, Epiphany, The Rumpus, among other places. She is the recipient of a 2018 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. She was also awarded the 2019 Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, and the 2017 John D Gardner Memorial Prize for Fiction. She resides in Trinidad and Tobago.
WATCH PLEASANTVIEW BOOK TRAILERS
“These stories are full of unexpected twists and connections and infused with humour. They herald the arrival of an intriguing new voice.”
Ingrid Persaud, Costa prize-winning, Author of Love After Love.
WHERE TO GET PLEASANTVIEW
Pleasantview – A novel-in-stories
USA Publication Date: May 4, 2021 | UK Publication Date: August 9, 2021