How does memory become myth? How do lies become family lore? How do we escape the trauma of the past when the truth has been forgotten?
Barbados, 1962. Lost soul Iapetus roams the island, scared and alone, driven mad after witnessing his father’s death at the hands of his mother and his older brother, Cronus. Just before Iapetus is lost forever, he has a son, but the baby is not enough to save him from himself—or his family’s secrets.
Seventeen years later, Iapetus’s son, the stoic Atlas, lives in a loveless house, under the care of his uncle, Cronus, and in the shadow of his charismatic cousin Z. Knowing little about the tragic circumstances of his father’s life, Atlas must choose between his desire to flee the island and his loyalty to the uncle who raised him.
Time passes. Atlas’s daughter, Calypso, is a beautiful and wilful teenager who is desperate to avoid being trapped in a life of drudgery at her uncle Z’s hotel. When she falls dangerously in love with a visiting real estate developer, she finds herself entangled in her uncle’s shady dealings, a pawn in the games of the powerful men around her.
It is now 2019. Calypso’s son, Nautilus, is on a path of self-destruction as he grapples with his fatherless condition, his mixed-race identity and his complicated feelings of attraction towards his best friend, Daniel. Then one night, after making an impulsive decision, Nautilus finds himself exiled to Canada.
The Island of Forgetting is an intimate saga spanning four generations of one family who run a beachfront hotel. Loosely inspired by Greek mythology, this is a novel about the echo of deep—and sometimes tragic—love and the ways a family’s past can haunt its future.
About the author
JASMINE SEALY is a Barbadian-Canadian writer based in Vancouver. Her work has been published in The New Quarterly, Adda Stories, Cosmonauts Avenue, GEIST, Room Magazine, Prairie Fire and Best Canadian Stories 2021. A graduate of the MFA program in creative writing from UBC, Sealy is the former prose editor at PRISM international. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for several prizes including Prairie Fire’s annual fiction contest, the CBC Short Story Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. In 2020 The Island of Forgetting won the UBC/HarperCollins Best New Fiction Prize.
"The Island of Forgetting is an engrossing saga of love, family and the undying past -- gorgeous at the sentence level and sweeping in both depth and scope. Jasmine Sealy is one of the most exciting and powerful new voices in fiction, and with this stunning debut she has crafted a moving world of a book, polyphonic and sprinkled throughout with fire." — - Omar El Akkad, author of What Strange Paradise
"A stunning debut. The Island of Forgetting is a bold, passionate, and razor-sharp novel, exquisitely written and deeply moving. With great empathy and nuance, Jasmine Sealy explores family bonds and secret legacies and the sacrifices we make in their name. I couldn’t put this book down. Jasmine Sealy is an astonishing, fierce new talent in Canadian fiction." — -Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Art of Leaving
"With The Island of Forgetting, Jasmine Sealy gifts us a moving and masterfully woven story of a family lineage wrought with secrets and their consequences. Sharply clever and deeply immersive, each of Sealy's characters, their choices, intimacies, and destinies will leave their scent on readers long after the last poignant page. At once heartbreaking and victorious, The Island of Forgetting is a viscerally compelling debut from an exceptional talent." — -Francesca Ekwuyasi, Butter Honey Pig Bread
“The Island of Forgetting is an epic novel of great elegance and empathy. Jasmine Sealy's nuanced portrait of love, loss and identity on a small Caribbean island is well-poised to become a classic of the Caribbean literary canon.” — Cherie Jones, author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House
"The Island of Forgetting unpacks the layered existence of Barbados in its exploration of family secrets hidden from view by sun-splashed beaches, to reveal a world teeming as much from dread as hope, where the island remains a place of longing, of home, despite all that has been lost to history and to time." — - Myriam J. A. Chancy, author of What Storm, What Thunder
"A brilliant richly absorbing tale on the repercussions of hidden familial legacies. A deeply evocative, stirring work." — - Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch