Whether as metaphors or settings, novels of all genres are awash with islands. Some day-dreaming writers project images of utopia onto these tiny pockets of land so far removed from mainland monotony, while others construct sinister tales of the supernatural and barbaric. Calibanesque ‘savages’ are conveniently contained in their remote settings as in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as authors explore imaginings of the unknown ‘other’ that resides in uncharted territories. For some, the wide stretch of ocean dividing island and continent keeps dark tales at a safe distance, and for others it allows the weird and wonderful to roam freely on the horizon, almost within sight.
With experts predicting that thousands of islands around the globe will be swallowed by the sea within the coming century, the air of mystery surrounding the theme of islands is unlikely to dwindle as these paradisiacal spaces are subjected to the mercy of rising sea levels. So, for now, venture out across land and water to far-flung tales and discover the multi-faceted nature of the island literary trope, with the following archipelago of reading suggestions.