- Paperback: 270 pages
- Published: 4/1/04
- IBSN: 9781888451559
- Genre: Fiction
An African American man confronts a heart of darkness when his family moves from Los Angeles to a small town in Norway.
“Limbo tells the story of Pharaoh Chisholm, a United States citizen born in Trinidad who moves to Norway, the home country of his wife. Like his protagonist, Henry was born in Trinidad, moved to America as a boy and is married to a Norwegian . . . Henry . . . drew on his experience living in a small, ethnically homogenous country [which allowed] him to write in great detail about the difficulty a black man from America has in adjusting to life in a country where he is culturally isolated.”
—South Bend Tribune
“In his debut novel, Limbo, Trinidadian author Sean Keith Henry delves deep into the world of culture shock and its effects on one man’s search for identity and purpose.”
“First time novelist, Sean Keith Henry, creates dynamic, multi-national characters to tell his . . . account of a minority living within a culturally unaware society.”
“Limbo is a smart, honest novel about displacement and the meaning of home. It struggles in turn with the embracing of identity and the welcome comfort of escape.”
—Percival Everett, author of Erasure, winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award
“Limbo is a strong, unsettling novel about race, dislocation, and the fragility of human connection. Through a series of events that seem both startling and inevitable, it skillfully depicts the ways we become alienated from those who love us—and from ourselves.”
—Nina Revoyr, author of Southland
“In Limbo, Sean Keith Henry mines the complexity of cultural displacement with nuance, sensitivity, and abundant wit. His cast of characters is colorful and vibrant, and his prose warms you like a shot of whiskey on a cold Norwegian night.”
—Adam Mansbach, author of Shackling Water
Limbo is the powerful and disturbing story of Pharaoh Chisholm’s cultural isolation and displacement when he and his family migrate from the multicultural mecca of Los Angeles, to Trondheim, a small, homogenous city hidden between fjords in the middle of Norway. One year after the birth of their beautiful daughter, Amaryllis, Pharaoh’s tempestuous relationship with a wayward father and an ambitious, proud, but childless sister deteriorates further as they are left behind with no one to fill Amaryllis’s void. Their bitter resentment results in their own alienation for they are shocked to think that Pharaoh has not only made a harrowing choice between Europe and America, but has deepened an existing, yet suppressed, racial gulf between both families that began with his marriage to Hannah Keilland.
Pharaoh not only has to confront the racial antagonism that is left behind, but must also struggle with a deep fear and paranoia in a society that represses individuality and brings him to the brink of a simmering rage which feeds and disguises the intense love he has for his daughter. Like James Baldwin’s themes of sexual and personal identity, Limbo allows the reader a penetrating glimpse of the struggles and nuances of cultivating both in a repressed and homogenous society.
SEAN KEITH HENRY was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame. His stories have been published in Obsidian II, Salamander, and Callaloo. Limbo is Sean Henry’s first novel. He is completing graduate work at NTNU, Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet, Trondheim. He lives with his wife and two children in Southern California.