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Cover of The Things that Fly in the Night by Giselle Liza Anatol

Book Cover: The Things That Fly in the Night by Giselle Liza Anatol
Photo Credit: Rutgers University Press

Rejections are an integral part of the writing life. The record of best-sellers initially rejected confirms the writer’s scourge. But this is of little consolation when you open your electronic mailbox to find another rejection letter from a literary agent. It read:

Thank you for your inquiry. We are sorry that we cannot invite you to submit your work or offer to represent you. Moreover, we apologize that we cannot respond in a more personal manner. We wish you the best of luck elsewhere.

That the literary agent responded to my query letter is highly commendable. Some agents don’t respond.

For the remainder of that day and during the following days, I struggled with the toxic fallout: Your work is not good enough. You’re wasting your time. Then…a discovery restored my battered self-confidence as a writer.

While doing a Google search for recent publications in Caribbean literature, I came across the book, The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora by Giselle Liza Anatol, published by Rutgers University Press in February 2015. The book “explores images of vampirism in Caribbean and African diasporic folk traditions and in contemporary fiction. Giselle Liza Anatol focuses on the figure of the soucouyant, or Old Hag—an aged woman by day who sheds her skin during night’s darkest hours in order to fly about her community and suck the blood of her unwitting victims… Tracing relevant folklore through the English- and French-speaking Caribbean, the U.S. Deep South, and parts of West Africa, Anatol shows how tales of the nocturnal female bloodsuckers not only entertain and encourage obedience in pre-adolescent listeners, but also work to instill particular values about women’s “proper” place and behaviors in society at large.”

Imagine my surprise on seeing my name in an excerpt on Google Books! In the excerpt of over 600 words, the author, an associate professor of English at the University of Kansas who teaches classes on Caribbean and African American literature, observes:

These same traditional gender roles are prescribed in Rosaliene Bacchus’s short story “The Ole Higue”—even with its 2008 publication date. The skin-shedding, vampiric folk figure is brought into the twenty-first century with references to a Playstation2, social networking, and the Transformers movie, which was originally released in 2007… Zina, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, reports that her neighbor, Mrs. Withers, is rumored to be an Ole Higue…

What validation of my work! Thank you Giselle Liza Anatol for considering my short story, “The Ole Higue” (published in the Guyana Journal, New York) worthy of analysis, alongside the work of such authors as Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and U.S. National Book Award winner Edwidge Danticat.

As an emerging Caribbean novelist with a yet-to-be-published first novel and a second in progress, I celebrate this small fruit of my labor of love. I press forward in my quest to find a literary agent and publisher.

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