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"William’s account of young love attests to Antoni’s fluency in the poetry of nostalgia. In words as vibrant as the personalities he creates, Antoni deftly captures unconquered territories and the risks we’re willing to take exploring them."
"A rollicking 19th-century colonial tale blends history with imagination."
"The emotional influence of Willy’s narrative—his loving descriptions of the people who surround him—is profoundly effective…Strikes strong emotional chords."
"Antoni…has written a novel epic in scope that...is driven by outbursts of fine writing."
Included in the New Yorker''s Page-Turner blog''s Best Books of 2013 (Selected by Edwidge Danticat)
"A bittersweet coming-of-age tale of tragedy, chicanery, high ideals, harsh realities, and the hard choice between love and family duty, As Flies to Whatless Boys is highly recommended."
--Midwest Book Review
"As Flies to Whatless Boys is a kind of complex word game, a historical narrative in a lilting Caribbean accent, wrapped around with an oddball love story in a wild form of English that seems to create itself as it goes along. In between, snippets of contemporary records provide foils for both these linguistic inventions."
--Historical Novel Society
"Antoni has a fine ear for cultural tensions and a wicked sense of humor."
--Ocean Drive Magazine
"As Flies to Whatless Boys is an inventive, witty, comic romance that is as much about history and adventure as it is about language. With virtuosic attention to language, Robert Antoni delightfully explores the written word in all its forms--as letters, as e-mails, as reportage, as narration, as archives--to tell stories, to paint characters, to demonstrate the range and integrity of English and its dialects, and to edge us closer to ourselves as equally human beings."
--Earl Lovelace, author of Is Just a Movie
"A marvel of a novel, layered in histories, Robert Antoni''s unique and engaging As Flies to Whatless Boys is an unforgettable and matchless work of fiction. A crowning achievement in an exceptional body of work by this amazingly talented writer."
--Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light
"As Flies to Whatless Boys is a brilliant novel that is rivetingly localized in a distant time and an untouched place, and yet somehow speaks vibrantly to this present age and to the universal human condition. Robert Antoni is a treasure of our literary culture."
--Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
"Robert Antoni doesn''t make giant steps. He makes quantum--and sometimes hilarious--leaps past whatever we called metafiction to the same territory as Richard Powers and David Foster Wallace. But like those men and unlike nearly everybody else, he never forgets that at the core of it all you''ve still got to tell a rip-roaring story."
--Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women
In 1845 London, an engineer, philosopher, philanthropist, and bold-faced charlatan, John Adolphus Etzler, has invented machines that he thinks will transform the division of labor and free all men. He forms a collective called the Tropical Emigration Society (TES), and recruits a variety of London citizens to take his machines and his misguided ideas to form a proto-socialist, utopian community in the British colony of Trinidad.
Among his recruits is a young boy (and the book''s narrator) named Willy, who falls head-over-heels for the enthralling and wise Marguerite Whitechurch. Coming from the gentry, Marguerite is a world away from Willy''s laboring class. As the voyage continues, and their love for one another strengthens, Willy and Marguerite prove themselves to be true socialists, their actions and adventures standing in stark contrast to Etzler''s disconnected theories.
Robert Antoni''s tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humor, provides an unforgettable glimpse into nineteenth-century Trinidad & Tobago.
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