Tiphanie Yanique reads an excerpt from her new book, Monster in the Mid- dle, during a panel discussion last week with Virgin Islands Poet Laureate Dr. Richard Georges as part of the BVI Lit Fest. (Photo: SCREENSHOT)

St. Thomas-born novelist Tiphanie Yanique was interviewed last week by Virgin Islands Poet Laureate Dr. Richard Georges as one of several virtual events held during the first-ever BVI Lit Fest.

Ms. Yanique — whose debut novel Land of Love and Drowning was published to critical acclaim in 2014 — read from her new book Monster in the Middle, which came out in October.

“It’s a book about how we come to learn about what love is,” she said. “It’s also a very political book, a very socially conscious book: the idea that love is a very political act.”

The chapter from which she read was told in the voice of the main character’s father.

“Listen, daughter, there is no way to know anything for sure, and thank God for that,” she read. “Thank God for that New Year’s Day 1968. That day the monster was on my back, but then again, the monster has always been coming for me. I’m a warm-blooded person because of where my blood comes from, that island blood.”

Her excerpt mentioned several scenes of the West Indies, including St. Thomas.

The panel discussion, themed “Magic Fiction,” was one of many similar events held during the Lit Fest, which started on Nov. 2 and wrapped up on Saturday.

Other panel discussions last week were themed First Tongues Poetry, Craft and Technique Essay, and Race and Gender in the VI.

Culture Director Dr. Katherine Smith said the first BVI Lit Fest was a success.

“We had workshops filled to capacity with local and overseas registrants,” she said. “We had a set of international panel discussions.”

Many of the panel discussions can be viewed on the HLSCC YouTube channel.