Caribbean Homesick Blues

An author from a colorful local family leaves academics behind for a more passionate tale

Still, it's hard not to dwell on Carnival's -- and Antoni's own -- grappling with affairs of the heart. After all, Carnival is easily his most engrossing, direct work to date. The folkloric devices that often defined his earlier books have been stripped away, leaving a rawer -- and ultimately more evocative -- look at unrequited love. And it's equally hard not to see the change in his personal life as having been the catalyst for such a dramatic shift.

This is a delicate subject to broach -- So, can you tell me how your marriage fell apart?-- yet Antoni is surprisingly relaxed in discussing it.

"It was my wife's choice," he says of their split. "Writing this book really saved me in a lot of ways. I had to find a release for all of that --," he searches for the right word, "-- that stuff. I'm dealing with a narrator who has problems that are very different from my own, but writing Carnival became absolutely liberating. I would run to my desk in the morning!"

So can we expect your next novel to be full of true-life tales?

He laughs and rolls his eyes: "I couldn't write about a guy getting a divorce. That would be the worst book in the world."

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