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In Voices Under the Window, Mark Lattimer who looks white is

the hero. But he has "black blood," with a "part-slave ancestry.

Mark is caught up in a riot by the unemployed of a West Indian

island and is "mortally wounded by a dope-crazed rioter."



 Kenneth Ramchand, ed. West Indian Narrative: An Introductory Anthology.  Nelson Thornes Ltd; Rev Ed edition (June 1980)

Part V

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West Indian Narrative: An Introductory Anthology

Edited by Kenneth Ramchand



Vidia S. Naipaul -- Born 1932 in Trinidad. Educated in Trinidad and Oxford University. Publications include The Mystic Masseur (a novel, 1957), The Suffrage of Elvira (a novel, 1958), Miguel Street (collection of stories, 1959), A House for Mr. Miswas (a novel, 1961), The Middle Passage: The Caribbean Revisited ( nonfiction, 1962), Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion (a novel, 1963), An Area of Darkness: An Expression of India (non-fiction, 1964). Miguel Street, Naipaul's third book, contains a number of stories about the inhabitants of a fictional street. Though humorous, the book is about frustrated lives and wasted ambitions in a limiting society. His characters are vivid and individual. 

Other Naipaul Books:

A Bend in the River (2002)  / Half a Life (2002) / Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (2001)

Indian: A Wounded Civilization (2003)  / Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions  Among the Converted Peoples  (1999)

In a Free State; A Novel (2002)  /  The Writers and the World: Essays (2003)  / Magic Seeds (2005)

The Enigma of Arrival  / The Turn in the South (2003)  / The Loss of Eldorado: A Colonial History  (2003)

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John Hearne -- Born 1926 in Canada. Educated in Jamaica, at Edinburgh and London University. Publications include Voices under the Window (a novel, 1955), Stranger at the Gate (a novel, 1956), The Faces of Love (a novel, 1957), The Autumn Equinox (a novel, 1959), Land of the Living (a novel, 1961).

In Voices Under the Window, Mark Lattimer who looks white is the hero. But he has "black blood," with a "part-slave ancestry. Mark is caught up in a riot by the unemployed of a West Indian island and is "mortally wounded by a dope-crazed rioter." This happens in the first chapter and in the final chapter Mark dies.

"The middle of the book consists of a series of flashbacks in which the dying man re-lives some of the incidents and events in his past which have made him the man he is. . . . The novel seems to deal in part with the dilemma of a man like Mark in a society where the automatic responses to colour tend to overshadow the behaviour of the individual and to work against the possibilities of personal relationship" (Ramchand, p. 157-158).

Other Hearne Books:

The Sure Salvation (1985)   The Eye of the Storm (1957) 

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Roger Mais -- Born 1905 in Jamaica. Died 1955. Painter, Dramatist, and Poet. Publications include novels -- The Hills Were Joyful Together (1953), Brother Man (1954), and Black Lightning (1955).

The main character of Black Lightning is Jake, "a gifted artist-blacksmith who discovers that a man cannot stand alone . . . . When Jake finds out that the individual human being is not complete in himself, he commits suicide. There is something aristocratic about Jake, and the novel makes us feel that in this case, suicide is the only solution to the human dilemma" (Marchand, p. 170)

But the novel contains a complementary story: the relationship of Glen and Miriam, who are attracted to each other but always tend to resist each other. "But if for Jake the only acceptable end is suicide, for Glen and Miriam, a tentative solution, hesitantly arrived at, is the acceptance of a love relationship.

Other Mais Books

Listen, the Wind (1987) Three Novels of Roger Mais (1966)

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Jan Carew -- Born 1925 in British Guiana. Educated in British Guiana, at Howard University (1945-46), University of Western Reserve (1946-47, Charles University (Prague, Czechoslovakia; 1949-50). Plays broadcast on the BBC. Publications include Black Midas (a novel, 1958), The Last Barbarian (a novel, 1961), Moscow Is Not My Mecca (nonfiction, 1964).

"Black Midas is a robust tale, full of spectacular events. it is firmly held in its Guianese setting by the vivid descriptions of Guianese scenery and wild-life, by the skilful sketching of the pattern of the pork-knocker's life. But the story of Ocean Shark, dispossessed, unsettled and restless is also a story of the search for the gold of self-knowledge and self-discovery. Its appeal and echo is not restricted by its Guianese setting.

Other Jan Carew Books

Green Winter (1965) / The Third Gift (1981) / Children of the Sun (1980)

Fulcrums of Change (1988) / Ghosts in Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England and the Caribbean (1994) /

Rape of Paradise (2006) The Guyanese Wanderer: Stories (2007)


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Theodore Wilson Harris -- Born 1921 in British Guiana. Educated in British Guiana. publications include novels -- The Palace of the Peacock (1960), The Far Journey of Oudin (1961), The Whole Armour (1962),  The Secret Ladder (1963), Heartland ((1964), and The Eye of the Scarecrow (1965).

In the story Kanaima, Wilson expressed "a certain condition or experience of man in the world. It is universal. It is in this sense that the stumbling, precariously perched woman is  a symbol, 'the groping muse of all their humanity. The figures in the story are experiencing a kind of break-up of the old forms of their lives--hence the drought, the disappearance of game, the fire, and the withering and dying everywhere."

Other Works:

Biography (2006)  /  Exploring the Palace of the Peacock (2003)  /  Selected Essays of Wilson Harris (1999)

Resisting Alterities: Wilson Harris and Other Avatars of Otherness (2004)


Source: Kenneth Ramchand, West Indian Narrative: An Introductory Anthology. London, 1966

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Natives of My Person

By George Lamming

Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although Natives of My Person has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.

George Lamming: Contemporary Criticism

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Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction

By Kiini Ibura Salaam

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.”

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel.

Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)

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Season of Adventure

By George Lamming

First published in 1960, Season of Adventure details the story of Fola, a light-skinned middle-class girl who has been tipped out of her easy hammock of social privilege into the complex political and cultural world of her recently independent homeland, the Caribbean island of San Cristobal. After attending a ceremony of the souls to raise the dead, she is carried off by the unrelenting accompaniment of steel drums onto a mysterious journey in search of her past and of her identity. Gradually, she is caught in the crossfire of a struggle between people who have "pawned their future to possessions" and those "condemned by lack of learning to a deeper truth." The music of the drums sounds throughout the novel, "loud as gospel to a believer's ears," and at the end stands alone as witness to the tradition which is slowly being destroyed in the name of European values. Whether through literary production or public pronouncements, George Lamming has explored the phenomena of colonialism and imperialism and their impact on the psyche of Caribbean people.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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update 13 February 2012




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Related files: MAWA 2003  West Indian Narrative-- Part One  Part Two   Part Three  Part Four  Experiment in Haiti    Jan Carew  Toward the Seventh PAC

George Lamming and New World Imagination  Eric Roach and Flowering Rock  Kam Williams Interviews Colin Roach   Shake Keane  Filmmaker Molefi K. Asante, Jr.