Monique Roffey's Orange Prize-shortlisted novel is a gripping portrait of postcolonialism that stands among great works by Caribbean writers like Jamaica Kincaid and Andrea Levy.
When George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England, George is immediately seduced by the beguiling island, while Sabine feels isolated, heat-fatigued, and ill-at-ease. As they adapt to new circumstances, their marriage endures for better or worse, despite growing political unrest and racial tensions that affect their daily lives. But when George finds a cache of letters that Sabine has hidden from him, the discovery sets off a devastating series of consequences as other secrets begin to emerge.
Every afternoon, around four, the iguana fell out of the coconut tree. Bdup! While sunbathing, it had fallen asleep, relaxing its grip, dropping from a considerable height. It always landed like a cat, on all fours, ready to fight. The dogs always went berserk, gnashing and chasing after the creature as it fled, scuttling across the grass, a streak of lime green disappearing off into the undergrowth.
'It never remembers the day before,' Sabine remarked. 'Never remembers its dreams, either, I suppose. Brain like a peanut. '
The lizard's daily plummet acted like an alarm clock, prompting Sabine to make their afternoon pot of tea. She went to put the kettle on.
'Jennifer, tell your son Talbot to come and kill that damn lizard.'
But Jennifer only rolled her eyes. She'd dominated the kitchen all day, baking gooey cakes and sweet-breads, stewing chicken with brown sugar. She'd been making pellau for the weekend. On the kitchen table, two halves of ...
Seamlessly integrating political issues involving race, colonialism, and the legacy of slavery with the more personal conflicts that Sabine and George experience in their marriage, Roffey crafts a novel whose epic scope - the action spans 50 years and is broken down into temporal sections: 2006, 1956, 1963, and 1970 - belies its intimate perspective.
(Reviewed by Marnie Colton).
Full Review (1011 words).
In 1956, Americans were getting their first taste of Trinidad's unique contribution to music in the form of Harry Belafonte's infectious crossover hit, "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)." A brief fervor for all things calypso followed, resulting in such nutty fare as tough guy actor Robert Mitchum's album, Calypso - Is Like So... (1957), and kitschy B movie Bop Girl Goes Calypso (1957). Although Belafonte may have been known as the King of Calypso in the United States (a claim to fame never made for Mitchum), Trinidadians revered serious performers like Lord Kitchener, Sir Lancelot, and the Mighty Sparrow, and for them, calypso symbolized much more than barbecue background music.
The roots of calypso are believed to date back to the ...
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