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A Tall History of Sugar


A haunting, epic Caribbean love story, reminiscent of García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.

Forthcoming: 10/1/19

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What people are saying…

A Tall History of Sugar is captivating from the very first page. Mythic in dimension yet movingly human in its details, alive with atmospheric richness, it heralds a fascinating new voice in English-language fiction.”
—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Manhattan Beach

“Curdella Forbes gives us Moshe and Arrienne, two mesmerizing and unforgettable characters who travel through this wonderful novel in the most unpredictable directions. Through them, a tall history is told of a relationship that no reader will ever forget.”
—Terry McMillan, author of Waiting to Exhale

“From the opening lines of her brilliantly revelatory A Tall History of Sugar, Curdella Forbes convinces us that it is yet possible to transform English into a language of seductive power, surprise, and fresh truth. She tells a compelling archetypal love story of human complexity that is rooted in an acute sense of the history of Jamaica, and one that speaks with such ease and beauty that the language seems wholly new and splendidly accessible. Curdella Forbes has achieved something resonant and remarkable in this delightful novel.”
Kwame Dawes, author of City of Bones

“Curdella Forbes has proven herself to be a lineage holder in the tradition of Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. A Tall History of Sugar is a wise and sagacious story about the one thing that matters most of all in the universe: love. Forbes has a deep understanding and compassion for her characters and a keen knowledge of the world they inhabit. It is an important book, no doubt.”
—Michael Imperioli, author of The Perfume Burned His Eyes


A Tall History of Sugar tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man who was “born without skin,” so that no one is able to tell what race he belongs to; and Arrienne Christie, his quixotic soul mate who makes it her duty in life to protect Moshe from the social and emotional consequences of his strange appearance.

The narrative begins with Moshe’s birth in the late 1950s, four years before Jamaica’s independence from colonial rule, and ends in the era of what Forbes calls “the fall of empire,” the era of Brexit and Donald Trump. The historical trajectory layers but never overwhelms the scintillating love story as the pair fight to establish their own view of loving, against the moral force of the colonial “plantation” and its legacies that continue to affect their lives and the lives of those around them.

Written in lyrical, luminous prose that spans the range of Jamaican Englishes, this remarkable story follows the couple’s mysterious love affair from childhood to adulthood, from the haunted environs of rural Jamaica to the city of Kingston, and then to England—another haunted locale in Forbes’s rendition.

Following on the footsteps of Marlon James’s debut novel, John Crow’s Devil, which Akashic Books published in 2005, we are delighted to introduce another lion of Jamaican literature with the publication of A Tall History of Sugar.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Published: 10/1/19
  • IBSN: 9781617757518
  • e-IBSN: 9781617757815


CURDELLA FORBES is a Jamaican American writer who lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, and teaches at Howard University. A Tall History of Sugar is her latest novel.

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