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Fiction Literary

Island Wings

by (author) Cecil Foster

HarperCollins Canada
Initial publish date
Aug 2013
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2013
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As a baby, Cecil Foster was left sobbing in the arms of his aunt as his mother departed Barbados to follow his father to a new and supposedly better life in England. What was supposed to be a short separation for Cecil and his two brothers ¬ their parents promised to send for the boys once they were settled ¬ turned into a 23-year absence that profoundly affected Cecil's outlook, and his life.

In our hearts, we would never really forgive our mother for abandoning us. And I would never outgrow the urge to take wings and fly away from what was supposed to be a tropical paradise but what was really an emotional prison for me, a symbol of my biggest separation and rejection. I always wanted to live like my parents: in a foreign country, struggling to be a success, to send back home word that I had completed all the dreams that for generations forced young men and women out of the Caribbean.

Island Wings is Cecil Foster's deeply affecting story of growing up in a country that was, at the same time, also struggling to find its own independence and place in the world. It is a story guided by the universal truths of heart, mind, and money: where a young boy is raised by an impoverished and physically abusive grandmother, a woman stretched to the limit by trying to raise her own children and grandchildren; where parents routinely leave their children behind for the dream of a better life off the island; where an education provides the slender thread of hope for a job in the civil service or hospital. Despite its setting of poverty and struggle, Island Wings is a story bursting with life and the rhythms of the island, of a young boy's memories of nights spent under a star-filled sky, of cricket games and of a teacher who dared children to dream and think.

Cecil Foster's story is also the story of Barbados, politically and economically volatile as it reached for independence from British rule. As a young news reporter, Cecil Foster witnessed the awakening political climate within the Caribbean nations, and his eventual departure from Barbados is inexorably intertwined with the island's turmoil.

A story that will ring true for many new Canadians, as well as for anyone who has ever searched for themselves and their rightful place in their family and their world, Island Wings is an evocative and rewarding story.

Praise for Cecil Foster

“He shows the brave characters of West Indian women as no one else has.” — E. ANNIE PROULX on No Man in the House

About the author

CECIL FOSTER was born in Barbados and immigrated to Canada in 1978. He has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Financial Post and has contributed to such magazines as Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Toronto Life, NOW and Canadian Business. He has also worked for the CBC (in radio and television) and CTV and is a regular commentator in the national media. He has published five works of non-fiction and four novels, including his highly praised debut, No Man in the House. Currently, Foster is a professor of sociology at the University of Guelph and is director of graduate studies in the department of transnational studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Independence is his first novel in almost twelve years.

Cecil Foster's profile page

Other titles by Cecil Foster