*STAR*Antoni, Robert. Carnival. Feb. 2005. 304p. Grove/Black Cat, paper, $13 (0-8021-7005-6).
Celebrated Caribbean writer Antoni excels at confounding expectations. Here his title suggests festivity, but what ensues is a shattering tale of deep-rooted class and racial conflicts erupting into vindictive violence. William, the hard-drinking white West Indian narrator, a floundering New York–based writer, always returns to Trinidad at carnival time, but this year, he is unexpectedly reunited with Laurence, who is black and a gloriously successful, jet-setting writer, and Rachel, William’s second cousin and the love of his life, although their ardor is thwarted by his impotency. Seeking escape from their sorrows, they give themselves over to the bewitching calypso beat and cathartic abandon of the carnival. But when Rachel initiates a brazenly public interracial relationship with the King of the Carnival, all hell breaks lose. A master at simultaneously erotic and menacing descriptions, a choreographer of chaos, a storyteller with a cosmic sense of natural forces and human perversity, and a literary trickster who has boldly recast Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises as a harrowing tale of the unhealed wounds of the Caribbean, Antoni considers the crushing cost of survival in a cruelly divisive world and reveals a chilling truth: sometimes love is not enough. ––Donna Seaman« CARNIVAL BY ROBERT ANTONI  |  FASCINATING CARIBBEAN HOMAGE TO HEMINGWAY »