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At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins that her island community refuses to acknowledge. Rapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner’s estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantationa site where her ancestors once worked the land, but which the resort now uses as a lookout point for tourists.
When Myrna discovers a book detailing the experiences of slaves, who still share a last name with the majority of the islanders, her investigation becomes deeply personal, extending to her neighbors and friends, and explaining her mother's self-imposed silence and father's disappearance. A new generation begins to speak about the past just as racial tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community when an African-American tourist at the resort is brutally attacked.
Suffused with the sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean, Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a powerful novel of hope and recovery in the wake of devastating trauma. In her soulful and timely debut, Entel explores what it means to colonize and be colonized, to trespass and be trespassed upon, to be wounded and to heal.
Rebecca Entel began this novel while teaching on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. She is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Cornell College, where she teaches African-American and Caribbean literature and directs the Center for the Literary Arts. She holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.
Her short stories have been published in Guernica, Joyland Magazine, The Madison Review, and elsewhere, and several have been shortlisted for awards from Glimmer Train, Southwest Review, and the Manchester Fiction Prize. Fingerprints of Previous Owners is her first novel.