by Rebecca Entel
At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins that her island community refuses to acknowledge. Rapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner’s estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantation—a site where her ancestors once worked the land, but which the resort now uses as a lookout point for tourists.
When Myrna discovers a book detailing the experiences of slaves, who still share a last name with the majority of the islanders, her investigation becomes deeply personal, extending to her neighbors and friends, and explaining her mother’s self-imposed silence and father’s disappearance. A new generation begins to speak about the past just as racial tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community when an African-American tourist at the resort is brutally attacked.
Suffused with the sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean, Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a powerful novel of hope and recovery in the wake of devastating trauma. In her soulful and timely debut, Entel explores what it means to colonize and be colonized, to trespass and be trespassed upon, to be wounded and to heal.
North American publisher: Unnamed Press, June 2017
Audiobook publisher: Blackstone
Foreign rights contact: Allison Devereux, Wolf Literary Services
Film/TV rights contact: Rachel Crawford, Wolf Literary Services
Rebecca Entel writes with spellbinding intelligence and a deep knowledge of the human heart. Her writing is true and exquisite, serious and fun.”—Lorrie Moore
This is the first novel by Entel … and it is a magnificent one. Here’s hoping that Entel follows her first novel with many more.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
[A] delicately crafted debut … Entel’s writing explores historical memory, race relations, economic imperialism, and family dynamics through the detailed world of Cruffey Island.”—Booklist
Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a memorable debut. Through the force of her sure storytelling and graceful prose, Rebecca Entel makes the unseen visible, and the unspoken past powerfully present.”—Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles and Madeleine Is Sleeping
Fingerprints of Previous Owners simmers with implicit and explicit violence, with social and economic injustices, the dichotomy of a hotel so crassly extravagant that it throws away good food daily while locals brew tea from wild leaves or eat whatever the poor soil can grow. Beautifully written, it is bleak, stark; as uncompromising as the island’s soil and as wrenching as the haulback shrubs that guard its secrets. Audacious, heartfelt and realistic, I found myself immersed in the perverted paradise of this island world, rooting for the characters I came to care so much about.”—Maxine Case, author of All We Have Left Unsaid