An Anthology of Indo-Caribbean Fiction
Edited by Frank Birbalsingh
2000, TSAR Publications
P.O.Box 6996 Station A
Toronto, ON Canada M5W 1X7
Review by Nalini Warriar
This anthology consists of sixteen stories by Indians of the Caribbean. A superb introduction
by Frank Birbalsingh, who teaches post-colonial literature at York University, Toronto, traces the evolution of the descendants
of some four hundred thousand Indians who came by ship (Jahaji) to the Caribbean between 1838 and 1917.
Jahaji, the sequel
to Jahaji Bhai (ship brother) published in 1988, is a term that designates new relationships forged by immigrants as shipmates.
Fifteen stories are by writers who did not appear in Jahaji Bhai. This anthology represents four waves of authors: those like
Sharlow Mohammed and Rajnie Ramlakhan who live in the Caribbean; those like Cyril Dabydeen and Sasenarine Persaud who have
emigrated and write about their old and new homes; those like Madeline Coopsammy with still young writing careers; and finally
the youngest, neither American or Canadian in culture but who have at least one Indo-Caribbean parent like Christine Singh
and Marina Budhos.
In Madeline Coopsammy's The Insiders, Amelia Joseph is seeking to break the barriers of being neither
black nor white. While shes' waiting to be admitted to the inner sanctum, she expects to be thrown out any minute by the office
Sushila's Bhakti by Shani Mootoo tells the story of Sushila, a goodBrahmingirl into meditational Yoga but unable
to pray to an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful God. And a male one too.
In the Job Interview by Christine Singh,
Krishna who calls himself Kris is struggling with his double identities-Caribbean and British.
In American Dad 1969,
Marina Budhos weaves the story of Jamila who tries desperately not to be ashamed of her very Caribbean father.
from Family, by Raywat Deonandan, Feroze, a young boy discovers old photographs in his Uncle Mustafahs dust covered chest.