When my brother had his home knocked down in a flood four years ago, in 2008, climate change became very real for me, and very close. The planet is melting. We all know this. But when the effects of climate change touched my family in a catastrophic way, I knew I should pick up my pen and write.
Archipelago, my third novel, is about a man, a little girl and their dog who sail away from one archipelago to another and in the process find perspective in the sea. This is a novel about escape, and how sometimes, if all else fails, it can offer a partial solution to tragedy.
But ultimately, in these difficult times, we all need to square up to the fact that our old safe lives of ‘home and job for life’ is not longer a given. Today we need to think creatively, more flexibly and to realise we are part of this global shift.
In April, 2013, Archipelago was awarded the OCM BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature.
“Roffey here creates an incrementally powerful reflection on grief, an acute study of a father-daughter relationship, with a compelling account of climate change and a transformative journey.” Anita Sethi, The Independent
“Roffey’s lexicon of loss is material and universal. The afflicted recognise its mark in each other…Archipelago evokes the pared-back rawness of being adrift, at the mercy of nature, first by accident and then by design.” Maria Crawford, Financial Times
‘What follows is a dangerous beautiful journey through the Caribbean — evoked by Roffey in a prose-feast of flying fish and turquoise water — and a moving journey as Gavin regains his life.” Kate Saunders, The Times
‘…the strength of the novel lies in her quiet exploration of both a child and an adult’s attempts to comprehend the loss and catastrophe that nature can impose,” Francesca Angelini, Sunday Times
“A big-hearted Moby Dick story for our times, “ Kapka Kassabova, The Guardian
“Archipelago is lovely: a novel full of sensual, elemental descriptions, soaked in loss and damage, and softly haunted by the Caribbean’s bloody history of slavery,” Claire Allfree, Metro
“Roffey writes like one who knows these waters well, their beauty and their capacity to cleanse, but also their volatility,” Natasha Tripney, The Observer
“It’s a powerful story of endurance and triumph in the face of adversity, and one that also offers answers to questions of how we might respond in a rapidly changing world when things start to go wrong.” Jim Ferguson, The Scotsman
“She captures the impotence of a man in the face of the extremes of nature quite superbly,” Lesley McDowell, Scotland on Sunday
“A man’s family home is destroyed by floods in Trinidad, but after it is rebuilt the nightmare continues. Roffey’s lyrical style won her accolades for The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, this is just as enchanting.” Elle
“You can feel the breeze on your face and you’ll be itching to dive into the green and turquoise leopard print sea,” Tatler.
“Archipelago is a big novel – it is a journey book, a modern day, New World Odyssey where all of the rules governing human reality have been inverted by the pure, indisputable might of nature ... The portrait that Roffey paints in this book, the hurt and loss that drive the journey and story forward are at once deeply personal and universal ... This is a book that pulls the reader into its story, its characters and into the folds of their grief ... Roffey’s skill lies in the pure humanity of the narrative.’ Sophia Harris, Wasafiri
“Monique Roffey’s Archipelago is a sparkling portrayal of the Caribbean, and the outer layer of the plot is a magical sea voyage…the real story, however, is a deeply moving story through grief,” We Love This Book
“The dramatic subject matter is treated in a subtle way and the father-daughter relationship drawn with unsentimental restraint. This is an intelligent, engaging novel distinguished by its great, though incidental, tenderness for the creatures of the natural world.” Sydney Morning Herald.
“..well-written and well told…Monique Roffey has a winner on her hands with Archipelago,” Raoul Pantin, Trinidad and Tobago Review
What writers have said:
“Moving, wise, and beautifully-written, Archipelago is a stunning achievement. Roffey’s graceful evocation of a sea odyssey builds with the rhythm of the waves to become not just one man’s personal tragedy, but – in the face of devastating climate change – everyman’s. There will be many more novels about humankind’s environmental folly. But for me, Archipelago sets the gold standard.” Liz Jensen, author, The Uninvited
“Archipelago is beautifully done. There’s a warmth to it, an exuberance and a wisdom, that makes the experience of reading it feel not just pleasurable but somehow instructive. It’s funny, sometimes bitingly poignant. And how well Roffey writes a male central character. A brilliant piece of storytelling.” Andrew Miller, Costa Prize winner, 2012
“Read this novel for its craft, its intense, elemental optimism and for the lyricism of a joyful girl-child’s discovering of the different faces of an archipelago,” Earl Lovelace, Commonwealth Prize Winner