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She’s Gone


The debut novel from the award-winning Ghanaian-born Jamaican poet.

$16.95 $12.71

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What people are saying…

“Dawes offers vibrant characters and locales in this diaspora of black culture and strong emotions, bordering the fine line between love and madness between two troubled people.”

“A masterly tour de force, the language here is elegant, seductive, and tender, the irony is sharp, the humor subverts, and hope shines through. Kwame Dawes is always reinventing the Caribbean narrative, fusing myth, legend, reggae, and his own sense of style to create a powerful and tremendous art. He never ceases to amaze.”
Chris Abani, author of Becoming Abigail and GraceLand

“This striking debut novel is from the heart and about the heart. The characters are true, the landscapes exquisite, and the relationships dynamic, insightful, and complex. Read it and be transported.”
—Bernardine Evaristo, author of The Emperor’s Babe

She’s Gone is the kind of debut novel that stuns its readers into silence. Set in the American South, New York City, and the Caribbean, this probing novel takes us on a risky expedition to the swampy bottom of the human psyche, a murky world where dreams of love, escape, and artistic freedom swim dangerously close to heartbreak, alienation, and madness . . . She’s Gone is a work of incandescent genius.”
Colin Channer, best-selling author of Waiting in Vain and Passing Through

She’s Gone explores the complex dynamics of cross-cultural relationships with deep insight and compassion. The two protagonists—Kofi, a Jamaican musician, and Keisha, an African-American social researcher—are gorgeously imagined. In their commitment to searching out the truth, both within themselves and in the world around them, despite their human frailties, Kwame Dawes’ lyrical prose explores the true meaning of courage.”
Kaylie Jones, author of A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries


Read Kwame Dawes’s contribution to “Are We Related?”

Kofi, a Jamaican reggae musician, and Keisha, a social researcher from South Carolina, meet at a club where Kofi’s band is playing on the tail end of a United States tour. Kofi and Keisha come together that night, seeking relief from the uneasy circumstances of their life—Keisha still trying to make up her mind about an ex-lover who keeps coming back into her life, and Kofi realizing that he is teetering on depression and the tyranny of his older lover in Jamaica. Something happens in their first meeting and Kofi convinces Keisha to take a chance and follow him to Jamaica.

She’s Gone explores the complex dynamics of two virtual strangers trying to negotiate the complicated terrain of cultural difference, class difference, and issues of gender. The Jamaica that Dawes writes about is thick with the politics of class and identity, full of characters with distinct agendas and needs—a world quite different from the stereotype of sea and sun. Keisha feels immediately like a stranger on the island, and Kofi’s return to Jamaica transforms him into a brooding man who finds comfort in withdrawing into himself.

Keisha takes off for the north coast, where she tries to make sense of her decisions. She is sure that she has made a mistake in coming to Jamaica. While there, she is physically attacked and left to feel as if she has no one to care for her. Kofi’s inertia is a disappointment and Keisha decides to return to America. Kofi succumbs to a deep depression and only when he discovers that Keisha is pregnant with their child does he begin a long journey across the US to find her. His travels take him to South Carolina, to her family, to her landscape and her history, teaching him more about Keisha and more about how much he needs her. It is never certain whether Kofi will find Keisha—her commitment is to find a new life for herself, a new space for herself.

She’s Gone delves into the psychology of desire and need as it contends with issues of culture and class. If it is a love story, it is one marked by the harsh realities of human existence that we see in the most revealing of Bob Marley’s love songs, or the cool sensual intelligence of the best of Milan Kundera. Dawes is a poet, but he never lets his poetry detract from the sheer pleasure of storytelling.

Watch Kwame Dawes and Vampire Weekend’s appearance at Barnes and Noble’s Upstairs at the Square.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Published: 2/1/07
  • IBSN: 9781933354187
  • e-IBSN: 9781617750717


Kwame Dawes is the Ghana-born, award-winning author of twenty-two books of poetry—including Sturge Town from Norton—and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. He has won Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Emmy, and was the 2019 awardee of the Windham-Campbell Prize in Poetry. He is series editor of the African Poetry Book Series—the latest of which is Kumi: New-Generation African Poets, A Chapbook Box Set. He currently teaches at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

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