Islands of the Dying Light by Rolf Lappert. (May, 2012).
Publication Date: June 15, 2012
Tobey and his older sister Megan, raised in poverty in Ireland, are abandoned by their mother while Tobey is still a baby. Years later, Tobey sets off for Dublin. He does not return to the village until he learns about the death of his father; when Tobey arrives for the funeral he discovers that Megan has already departed. The story alternates between Tobey's search for his sister, and a series of letters from Megan that document her life in London as an animal rights activist, her marriage and divorce, and her work as a veterinarian on a sparsely populated island in the Philippines. Tobey follows in his sister's footsteps, but when he finally arrives on the island, Megan has vanished. In his effort to unravel the mystery of her disappearance, Tobey discovers a sinister purpose behind the island's dilapidated laboratories and its enigmatic inhabitants.
About the Author:
Rolf Lappert was born in Zürich in 1958 and trained as a graphic designer. He gave up writing for a long time and set up a jazz club with a friend. From 1996 to 2004 he worked as a scriptwriter, including for a Swiss TV series. Today, the author Rolf Lappert lives in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland.
Praise for Islands of the Dying Light
"With the horrors of a sadly beautiful and treacherously savage island world, Lappert connects the fate of two people who seek happiness and find horror. With great subtlety he unfolds the life stories of two siblings, who escape Ireland to seek fulfillment elsewhere." Roman Bucheli, Neue Zurcher Zeitung
"A book full of mystery. Lappert arrives at this novel through moods and states, through landscapes and memories. You are held captive by the atmosphere, gripped by the many interior narratives, touched by Lappert's power with words." Martin Ebel, Tages-Anzeiger
"A novel that grabs the reader from the first page and does everything in its power to subtly convey his moral messages." Rainer Moritz, Die Welt
Islands of the Dying Lightis available from Follett Library Services, YBP, Coutts, Brodart, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram Book Distributors.
Islands of the Dying Light
After it had been raining almost all of July, August finally brought warm, dry weather. “Sunshine,” the man on the radio said, and Megan whis- pered the word, because the sound pleased her. Sunshine. That was what her mother called her, when it was a good day and her voice was a tender singsong. Megan sat in front of the door of the house, under the canopy where the colorful flowers grew, and held the baby-bottle filled with sweet tea. There were flapjacks and slices of discolored brown apple on a plate. The cackling of the chickens wafted above; now and then the nag Sam snorted when the flies annoyed him too much. Far away, the chug- ging of a tractor rose into the immeasurable, dazzling blue sky. A gust of wind blew the hot air away from the veranda and cooled the girl’s sweat- ing body a little.
The woman in the car looked at the house. Behind the sunglasses her face was blurred by a square of glistening light. When the man started the engine, she rolled down the window and lifted her hand in a tentative wave. But then the car started moving, rode over the empty ochre- colored ground and disappeared behind the trees that lined the dry ditch. When the engine noise died down and the dust settled, the boy’s crying rose from inside the house, at first whimpering, questioning, finally with the full volume and strength a half-year old is capable of. Megan listened carefully for a while, waiting to see if someone would come and take care
of the annoying creature, but nobody came. All she could hear was the careless flock of chickens and the humming of the tractor, quieter than a bumble-bee.
Then the baby stopped crying. He was probably lying there, staring at the ceiling, eyes as large as Daddy’s coat buttons, his face gone all red and more spotted than the skin of the cat. Tobey. A noisemaker and a glutton when he wasn’t sleeping. Toto. “Little Brother,” Mom always said when Megan looked at him and wished someone would stuff him into the trash, along with the stinky diaper and the rattle—which belonged to her—and the pink blanket she had slept on until he showed up.
Megan put down the baby bottle, turned to the side, put her hands on the wooden planks and pushed herself up. She waited until she no longer wobbled, then she moved toward the front door, which was open like all the other doors and windows of the house. She heard the wailing of the creature, who couldn’t do anything for himself except make noise. He couldn’t walk; he couldn’t hold a spoon or a bottle; and he couldn’t even clap his hands. Nevertheless, he spent much more time with Mommy than her, Megan, Meggie, Sweetie, who no longer had to be carried around and constantly fed, who could wash her own hands and use the toilet if someone sat her on it.
When she reached the door, something held Megan back. She turned around but there was no one there. Then, while trying to cross the threshold, she felt the slight pressure of the strap around the upper part of her body, covered with a thin camisole. She took a step back and saw the rope that hung from the center of her back, which ran in a curved line starting at the floor boards and ending at one of the railing posts. Megan looked at the knot in the rope, ran her fingers over the straps, and finally sat down. In her small, warm head thoughts circled; short, simple ques- tions, the way they were posed in the books her mother read to her from before she went to sleep sometimes. Where do fish sleep when they are tired? What does the sun do at night? She pulled on the leash. Can a girl turn into a dog the way a frog can turn into a prince? She still had all her fingers on her hands. Her feet had not turned into paws.
Megan looked over the place where the sun had extinguished every- thing: the stones, the potholes, the tire tracks. It was quiet. The chickens were dozing somewhere in the shadows, Sam had toddled off to the other end of the pasture where a few trees stood. Then, as if she had called to him, the dog appeared.
“Wellie,” Megan said softly. She got up and walked a few paces toward the sun-drenched steps of the veranda, until the rope was stretched tight. The Border collie heard her, wagged his tail and wanted to come to her, but the chain attached to the wall of the barn was holding him back. He tugged at it and barked, and after a while he sat down despite the heat that covered the ground with a layer of shimmering air.
“Wellie,” Megan said again, a little louder than before. The useless crea- ture in the house began to cry again, and now Megan was crying too.