THE SWANS AT TUALOA by Julian Quarles (Caribbean)


The Swans at Tualoa
by Julian Quarles (Peace Corps Caribbean trainer)
Dorrance Publishing
March 2024
540 pages
$32.00 (Paperback); $34.44 (Hardback)


And so he had come to the land Tualoa, its tapering mountains a brilliant green. Spoonbill and osprey, sandpiper, heron, the yellow-bellied sunbirds fringing the shore. What except this, this faraway land with the charm of a tale? They spent afternoons at Little Marquis away from the eyes of the elder Su’uni. The nectarine lands dropped into the sea, her blue-run chambers swollen with worm. A series of clouds bunched over the west. He may have remembered a scene from Simoon, the world immense with its moments of gladness. The purposes of heaven lay before them that day. It came on a wind, to the island places, Alisi, Croyenne and Île des pengouins . . .

Recovered papers at an eastern university lead to a narrative spanning a century – a British boarding school, a New England academy, two world wars through the Pacific and Burma, finally the solace of grassed Arkansas and rural New Hampshire. A young man must discover through time and chance, passion and violence, much about his earth. Framed with imagery of continental birdlife, and suggesting the life of his friend Richard Trellimont, the tale is the story of a writer’s own being and coming of age.


Julian Quarles was a Peace Corps trainer in the Caribbean. He also has taught English in American Samoa, New Mexico, Grenada, Jamaica, Alaska, Florida and California. He has published two volumes of poetry, Foxfire and Hampshire County.

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