In the hot and hedonistic atmosphere of Toucan Bay, a Caribbean enclave on the planet Kunu Supia, the legendary hustler of bootleg melanin Joe Sambucus Nigra returns from the desert with a price on his head. Waiting for him at the seafront brothel and nightclub Houdini’s, are several of his enemies including his arch nemesis, the gargantuan hired assassin Bo Nuggy.
An unnamed, semi omniscient narrator relates the sequence of events that unfold at Houdini’s the night of Joe Sam’s long awaited return. His story is interrupted by periodic hallucinations or genetic flashbacks that take the reader on a journey from ancient Iere to Kunu Supia, via present day Trinidad. And in which the past, present and future coalesce into a more expansive narrative that reveals his own history through time and space.
The twenty-four chapters that comprise The African Origins Of UFOs were written over a five year period. The text is a time shifting narrative in poetic prose and poetry that fuses elements of Science Fiction, surrealism, metafiction, Trinidadian history and mythology, to explore issues of exile, race and genetic memory, all told in a fresh and innovative language, infused with the speech rhythms of Trinidad. It blends the diasporic with the avant-garde into something which can only be called “afropsychedelic noir.”
‘Joseph employs a syncretic, diasporic and highly innovative blend of genres and styles, providing an example of how diaspora becomes subject, inspiration and rationale for the innovative use of form, while experimental traditions enable him to show the diaspora in a fresh light.’ —Lauri Ramey
‘The African Origins of UFOs tracks the pull of place and the pull away from place, Afro-blue to astro-black and what glimmers in between. “Genetic contraband” and “bootleg melanin” afford a measure of the job it takes on. Possessing or possessed by requisite bearings, language and lore, Anthony Joseph is fully and beautifully up to the task.’ —Nathaniel Mackey
‘This is great new 'second generation' Caribbean stuff – movin away from the script & the scruff – or ratha – betta! – writin upon it – over and under it – a palimpsest to rahtid! – pouring out images like Eno's – or UFOs!!!’ —Kamau Brathwaite
‘Anthony Joseph is a talented writer with a powerful imagination.’ —Linton Kwesi Johnson
‘Vestiges of plot – concerning a galaxy where melanin is exchanged like an illicit drug – are a little hard to fathom in a novel the publishers describe as psychedelic noir. They say this book blends ‘the diasporic with the avant garde’, which may sound scary, but the rhythmic beauty of the text still makes it an inviting read. Joseph can recite a staggering 80% of UFOs from memory, and if he happens to be performing near you, he is well worth catching live. This book could almost be a CD.’ —Pulp Net
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