FREE E-BOOK: Download The Night of the Rambler for FREE through Wednesday, February 24!
Next month marks the release of On the Way Back, a hilarious new novel by Montague Kobbé. Kobbé’s novel centers on a comically failed business venture on the island of Anguilla, brilliantly echoing A Confederacy of Dunces and Herman Wouk’s Don’t Stop the Carnival.
To celebrate the release of Kobbé’s new novel, we’re delighted to give you a special preview of the book. See below to read an excerpt from On the Way Back.
In addition, from today until next Wednesday, February 24, you can download a copy of The Night of the Rambler — Kobbé’s gorgeously written debut novel — for absolutely free!
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from On the Way Back
by Montague Kobbé
I am the Dragon. My real name belongs to my father, Nathaniel Jones. We both bear the exact same name, the exact same curse. There isn’t even a distinguishing Jr. between us. One night, many generations ago, during a family reunion somewhere in rural Illinois, one of the Jones women called out for Junior. At that point, father, grandfather, and son simultaneously got up from the table to attend to the call. That night, it was decided that no other Jones would ever use the qualifying annex behind his proper name. Fifty years later, the second son of the youngest of the Joneses present in that family reunion filled out the forms that acknowledged the legitimacy of a baby born from a young German woman with sparkly blue eyes, calling him Nathaniel Jones. Not Nathaniel Jones V. Not Nathaniel Jones, Jr.—partly because he, the father, was himself not called Nathaniel, but Horace—simply Nathaniel Jones.
As soon as I heard that stupid tale, at the age of eight, I, Dragon Jones, first and only son of such Nathaniel, refused to follow the unimaginative tradition of the family that abandoned my father long before the blueprints of my being could be sketched in the ducts of his testes. It was then that I acquired the identity of a man who would forever be taken for a Welsh peasant. I, Dragon Jones, am not Welsh. In fact, I’m half-German—twice: my father, half-American, really German, met my mother, half-German, really Australian, in the place where I was born: the Federal Republic of West Germany. When my family discovered the fact that a country with soaring economic growth doesn’t necessarily provide the entirety of its inhabitants with economic well-being, they decided to move to a place where they could put to use their Teutonic American and thick Australian accents. The closest one was England. I don’t feel identified with any of these countries, none of those nationalities seem to apply to me. However, given that very few people in England know either my real name or the bizarre dimension of my true story, very few people in England believe me when I say that I am unequivocally not Welsh. (After all, is there anything more Welsh than Dragon Jones?) Nevertheless, in due time, I learned that it was better to be what I was not, than to be what people wouldn’t believe I was, so I embraced the motto rather Welsh than German (if only marginally) and stopped asserting what it was that I wasn’t.
Though I have tried my best to disentangle myself from Nathaniel’s name, I still share his curse. Fate and Nathaniel have brought me to this flat islet with the shape of a snake on the northern edge of the Caribbean. Anguilla is a recondite destination: sixteen miles long, three wide, little vegetation, and no history. But Anguilla is also surrounded by an enormous coral reef. Take that fact and combine it with the effect of the tides and a large, large dose of time, and you will be left with the most beautiful beaches in the world. In the world.
It was seeking beauty, comfort, and seclusion during Easter over one year ago, that Nathe stumbled upon the unattractive name of Anguilla. He was considering returning to the Seychelles until the moment when he opened Hotel Anguilla’s website. From then on, there was no turning back. Had he not randomly landed on that page, he might have gone to the Seychelles. Had he not come to Anguilla, he would have never met Sheila Rawlingson. Had he not met Sheila Rawlingson, he never would have married again.
Sheila Rawlingson is my father’s wife. Sheila Rawlingson is half Nathaniel’s age. Sheila Rawlingson might well be the reason why I’m here. Nathaniel met Sheila on the second week of his two-week vacation during Easter, over one year ago. After a short period of courting and a large amount of controversy, Nathaniel and Sheila married. Their long honeymoon was followed by a decision to return to the homeland of their love, perhaps to appease the clamor raised by their private wedding. It was at some point after their return that Nathaniel came up with the extravagant idea of setting up a commercial airline based on Anguilla to feed the rest of the Leeward Islands, to connect with European destinations, and to link with the most important of the Windward Islands. Sheila told him he was crazy; I had to read the e-mail he sent me twice, to make sure he wasn’t joking. But Nathaniel is tenacious to the point of stubbornness and his persistence has made me travel to an island of which I had barely heard before to form a partnership with a woman I had never met. Sheila Rawlingson is a gorgeous woman: she is exuberant, beautiful, elegant. I, the Dragon, have a secret to tell you: I’m in love with Sheila Rawlingson, my father’s wife, our business partner.
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Praise for The Night of the Rambler:
Selected by The Airship/Black Balloon Publishing as a Best Book of 2013
“Colorful detours into native lore, such as a rich Dutchman’s fabled courtship of a local beauty, strike grace notes that echo Marquez . . . readers . . . will be rewarded with the little-known tale of how the underdog country demanded its own place in the 20th century.”
“With tremendous humanity and humor, the novel articulates these themes through the power of the relationships and the urgency each character demonstrates in this quest for self-determination.”
—The Caribbean Writer
“The Night of the Rambler is exceptional. Riveting, deeply thoughtful, and constantly inventive, Montague Kobbé’s novel is part literary thriller, part revolutionary study, part epic historical narrative. Altogether, it makes for one profound read.”
—Joe Meno, author of Office Girl and Hairstyles of the Damned
With echoes of Junot Díaz, Vargas Llosa, and Zadie Smith, an exhilarating voyage across the Caribbean during a time of revolution from debut novelist Kobbé.
On June 9, 1967, sixteen men from Anguilla, a forgotten island in the Caribbean, set sail aboard a thirty-five-foot sloop, the Rambler, to make the night-time journey to St. Kitts, where they intended to carry out a coup d’état and install a new government sympathetic to their separatist cause. Set against the turbulent background of world politics in the sixties, The Night of the Rambler tells the story of a misinformed and misconceived plan, carried out incompetently by a group of scarcely trained and ill-equipped amateurs who escape calamity by mere coincidence. And yet, somehow, the main purpose of their mission, the furtherance of Anguilla’s struggle to dissociate itself from the newly formed state of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and to return to the British colonial fold, is significantly strengthened by this, quite possibly the most outrageous episode in the history of revolutions.
Loosely based on the historical facts surrounding the Anguilla Revolution of 1967, The Night of the Rambler unfolds across the fifteen hours that lapse between the moment when the “rebels” board the motorboat that will take them across the strait to St. Kitts, and the break of dawn the following day, when it becomes obvious that the unaccomplished mission will have to be aborted. The novel consciously moves away from the “historical” category, purposely altering at will the sequence of “facts” narrated, collating fully fictional episodes with vaguely accurate anecdotes and replacing the protagonists with fictional characters. At turns highly dramatic and hilarious, Kobbé brings deep honesty to the often-unexamined righteousness of revolution.
With echoes of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Mario Vargas Llosa’s Conversation in the Cathedral, The Night of the Rambler touches upon the universal topics of freedom and self-determination with humor and sensibility, creating an alternative reality that is informed by real life but ultimately governed by the uncanny.
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Montague Kobbé was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and has resided in the UK, Germany, and Spain. He has had close ties to Anguilla for over thirty years and maintains a regular literary column in Sint Maarten’s Daily Herald. His work has been published in theNew York Times and El Nacional (Venezuela) among many other media outlets. He is the author of The Night of the Rambler (a finalist for the Premio Literario Casa de las Américas) and Tales of Bed Sheets and Departure Lounges. He currently lives in London. On the Way Back is his latest novel.
Posted: Feb 17, 2016
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