A Continent of Islands Summary
by Mark Kurlansky

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A Continent of Islands

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Mark Kurlansky has written extensively about the Caribbean for a number of leading newspapers. In A CONTINENT OF ISLANDS, Kurlansky has taken it upon himself to describe with the keen eye of an experienced reporter what life is really like for the inhabitants of the various Caribbean islands. The author makes the point, though, that a true understanding of the region and its peoples requires historical perspective. Kurlansky has great respect for the Caribbean peoples and how they have found various ways to survive what has been a brutalizing colonial past. The remnants of colonial domination are all too evident. Kurlansky makes it clear that European colonization taught the Caribbean societies to be overly concerned about race, religion, class, and many other divisive issues.

Since 1992 is the five hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ landing in the West Indies, many celebrations have been planned to commemorate the event. Except as a way to make some easy money, it would seem that the peoples of the Caribbean islands would find it almost impossible to celebrate the arrival of Columbus to their shores. The indigenous population was either enslaved or killed by the European invaders. There is no easy answer to the dilemma that the contemporary Caribbean countries face. Some of them still remain linked to a colonial power, while others have won their independence and are struggling to find their way in the contemporary world. In A CONTINENT OF ISLANDS, Kurlansky goes beyond where a tourist would tread in order to speak to issues of major concern to this proud region that is struggling to win for itself a bright future.