Author Nathalie Taghaboni was described as a non-conformist at last Friday’s launch of her two books—Across from Lapeyrouse and its sequel Santimanitay. Taghaboni’s books give an insight into her nature—energetic, offbeat and original. Launched at the Audio Visual Room at the National Library and Information Systems Authority (Nalis) at Hart and Abercromby Streets in Port of Spain, Taghaboni had the support of close family friends and well-wishers. In her spirited speech, the author, also known as Queen Macoomeh, described Across From Lapeyrouse as her best work. She said Caribbean fiction especially written by unknown authors is hardly recognised. She said she is fascinated by the success of the book. “These characters pushed me. The book was not just written, it poured. I felt like a conduit to what was happening. When I sat down to write my first novel, I had no clear idea of where it was going. But I am just as fascinated as any reader—the book is brilliant. I was told that nobody would read Caribbean work and that there was no market for Caribbean centric work especially written in our vernacular,” Taghaboni said.
Taghaboni said she felt compelled to launch her publishing house, Commess University Press, to support authors like herself by giving them a platform and a space to showcase their work. “I went to publishers with the book written in our English and our flavour and they asked me to rewrite it in standard English. They dismissed me, so I launched my own publishing house,” Taghaboni said.
In a review of the work, local author Roslyn Carrington described Taghaboni’s work as “joy and anguish meet in the middle”.
Carrington added, “I wouldn’t exactly call Santimanitay, Nathalie Taghaboni’s follow-up to Across from Lapeyrouse, either a prequel or a sequel. It’s more like a before-and-after-quel or an alongside-quel. It supports, explains, and fleshes out the first book, and yet is fulsome and self-contained enough to stand on its own, even if you haven’t yet read its predecessor. Much of the narrative focuses on the romance between Carlton and the beautiful Haitian doctor, Helene, whereas previously she lingered on the fringes of the Savanoy children’s consciousness as their father’s outside woman. Again, it takes great talent to make a reader root for the survival of an extramarital affair, not only because the love between the couple is so genuine, so palpable, but also because the marriage Carlton is seeking escape from was spawned in the darkest pit of hell. “Remy emerges as a tragic figure, longing for his father’s acceptance, craving his mother’s love, and desperately searching for his identity. Between wrestling with illicit drugs, struggling with his sexuality, trying his best to be a good big brother and battling constant ill-health, he has few truly happy moments. And in the same way that movie-goers who hang around until after the credits roll get a delightful mini-scene, like an after-dinner mint that sweetens the whole meal, Santimanitay waits until the very end to reveal the secret of Remy’s paternity. And I guarantee it will make you drop your coffee. “As you’d expect from a Taghaboni novel, Carnival itself is a character, with all its splendid colour and noise. Mas and sex feed off each other, and if you’ve ever wondered what role a gigantic King costume can play in a superheated sexual encounter—well, maybe you haven’t, but work with me here—there’s a scene that will explain all you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.
Santimanitay is teeming with living, breathing characters. Some you’ll love, some you’ll hate, but none will leave you untouched. And as humorous as it is, there’s a thread of tragedy running through this tapestry that just might leave you in tears. If it does, take a deep breath, put the book down if you can and go for a short walk. Then come back and attack it once again...without mercy.
Santimanitay by Nathalie Taghaboni is available from Amazon as an e-book. Fans can reach her at info@CommessUniversity.com
Nathalie Taghaboni was born in Trinidad and Tobago and raised in Toronto, Canada. She currently resides in the United States with her husband and two children. She is a freelance photojournalist and the author of a collection of dialect short stories called Tales from Icebox Land, written under her pen name, Queen Macoomeh.
Nathalie is a featured writer for SHARE NEWS (Toronto), SHE Caribbean Magazine (St Lucia), Everybody’s Magazine (New York) and Chicken Soup for the Soul (US) and freelances with several virtual and print publications.