Most Bermudians have at least three accents each. These are summoned at will and interchangeably. A North American will hear something high-pitched and exuberant and take it for the Queen’s English. A Brit will hear long vowels and correct middle-tones which seem to them direct from the American South. Another Bermudian will be greeted in a low-register chest voice with idiosyncratic words, a sometimey extra V, and – so it might seem to either American or Brit, who may not understand a thing – certain strange umlauts. Each Bermudian is polyphonic.
It comes from being in the middle. Smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on top of a volcano. The nearest landmass is North Carolina, 640 mi or 1030 km west, whichever you find less confusing; but you should know that the Island, which is really an archipelago, is a British colony which is taught to think in km except on American television, which is ubiquitous and devoted to mi. So each Bermudian is tangled up and isolated. The place is rife and jam-packed with favourites and favorites in loads and tons of colorful colours. Most confounding of all is the multicolo(u)red polyphonic conservative majority, which is officially, religiously uncomfortable with nonconformity.
That’s what makes it so much fun and devilishly depressing to write about. Mandy-Suzanne Wong, a born Bermudian of Jamaican parentage and confusing Afro-Chino-Cuban heritage, loves motley-timbred fiction where voices aren’t just voices but dangerous lovable beings who do and don’t exist, who suffer dreams and images that get entangled and undone.
Mandy-Suzanne was raised in Southampton, Bermuda. Then she lived for twenty years in Boston and Los Angeles, earning a BA from Wellesley, an MM from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She co-authored her first novel with the screenwriter Rich Andrew when they were fifteen. The following year, a Connecticut literary magazine published her first solo story.
Her recent fiction appears in Quail Bell, The Island Review, The Spectacle, The Hypocrite Reader, Conclave, Five on the Fifth, Dark Matter, and on the shortlist for the UK’s Aeon Award. She also writes creative nonfiction and scholarly essays, which have appeared in Volume!, The Hypocrite Reader, Organised Sound, and anthologies produced by Open Court, Routledge, Oxford University Press, and Duke University Press. She was a founding Co-Editor-in-Chief of Evental Aesthetics, a peer reviewed journal of philosophy and art, which she still serves as an editorial consultant. Listen we all bleed, her first creative nonfiction book, is under contract with the University of Georgia Press. It’s about doing animal activism through radical sonic art.
Mandy-Suzanne’s debut novel, Drafts of a Suicide Note, was shortlisted for the 2015 Santa Fe Writers’ Project Literary Award, named a semifinalist for the 2016 Conium Review Book Prize, awarded an honorable mention in the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, and chosen as a finalist for the 2018 Permafrost Book Prize. It will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.