harvard fiction lecturer patri-cia Powell's lush erotic novel follows the life of a "Chinee" shopkeeper who is smuggled to the Caribbean aboard a slave ship. As his story is told, we learn the deep secrets kept by the people who live amidst the roiling race politics of a turn-of-the-century Jamaican plantation town.Main character Lowe appears to be a quirky fellow who ekes out a living as a shopkeeper and is married to a white lady. But there's that fake moustache he constantly worries over, his feminine hands and the revelation that he was repeatedly raped during the long boat journey by a white slave trader who then bequeathed him a small grocery store.
The novel starts as Lowe's store is burned down by his neighbours, revealing the bitter resentment of the town's black people toward the Chinese, who are forced to play middlemen to survive, selling food and other necessities for the white landowners.
The whites are indifferent to his situation because he's not one of them, and he's faced over and over with the fact that only his white wife keeps him from becoming an indentured worker.
The fire acts as a catalyst. Lowe begins to confront his terrifying past and to bridge the gap between himself and his estranged daughter. He makes peace with his secrets.
He also realizes that the best way to end the escalating attacks against the shopkeepers is to build solidarity within the town's Chinese community.
He has a dream of erecting a giant pagoda, a cultural centre where people can embrace their heritage and support each other.
Historical fiction filled with dizzying twists and turns, The Pagoda is a sensitive and original novel.