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Bethany, Bettany

UK Publisher: Chatto & Windus

A Caribbean country on the verge of collapse. A small town called Boundary. A rambling house inhabited by three generations of the Abrahams family. And a little girl who is trying to make sense of it all…

Bethany Bettany is five years old when her father dies and her mother leaves her to fend for herself in the Abrahams household. The place simmers with resentment: her uncles and aunts think her mother killed her father; her grandmother has not left her room since her grandfather disappeared. Bethany is the scapegoat for it all. Taunted, beaten, despised, she retreats into silence and learns to make herself invisible.

As she quietly nurses her wounds, she eavesdrops on the conversations of the adults around her. Soon she is piecing together answers to the questions that haunt her. How did her father die? Why doesn’t her mother answer her letters? And who is she?

Fred D’Aguiar’s wonderfully rich, evocative, fourth novel is a book about borders – between people and between nations. In Bethany he has created both a loveable character and a symbol for the search of a nation to make itself whole. If Boundary is Guyana, then Bethany Bettany – a girl torn between two names – is the spirit of its people poised for flight.