Oscar Villalon is book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. A member of the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, he's also a long-time juror of the California Book Awards, sponsored by the Commonwealth Club. His writing has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review and The Believer, and his reviews have aired on KQED's The California Report. He lives with his wife and son in San Francisco.
Tropic Death, the blunt, specific title for Eric Walrond's story collection, first published more than 85 years ago, couldn't be more apt. These 10 stories indeed have tropical settings — namely, British Guiana, Barbados and the Panama Canal Zone — and death is ever present, as palpable as the bludgeoning heat and suffocating racism that characterize many of these tales.