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The Last English Plantation

"So you want to be a coolie woman?" This accusation thrown at twelve year old June Lehall by her mother signifies only one of the crises June faces during the two dramatic weeks this fast-paced novel describes.

£8.99

Author(s)
Jan Lowe Shinebourne
ISBN
9781900715331
Pages
182
Price
£8.99
Classification
Fiction, Novels
Setting
Guyana
Date published
16 May 1988

June has to confront her mixed Indian-Chinese background in a situation of heightened racial tensions, the loss of her former friends when she wins a scholarship to the local high school, the upheaval of the industrial struggle on the sugar estate where she lives, and the arrival of British troops as Guyana explodes into political turmoil.

Merle Collins writes: 'Jan Shinebourne captures the language of movement, mime, silences, glances, with a feeling that comes from being deep within the heart of the Guyanese community. In The Last English Plantation her achievement lies in having the voices of the New Dam villagers dominate the politically turbulent period of 1950s Guyana - A wonderful and stimulating voyage into the lives behind the headlines, into the past that continues creating the changing present. The voices of the New Dam villagers never leave you.' 

Wilson Harris writes: 'Jan Shinebourne's The Last English Plantation is set within a labyrinth of political chaos in British Guiana in the 1950s. But the novel is more subtly as well as obsessively oriented towards the psychological as well as the inner landscape of a colonial age. A gallery of lives depicted in The Last English Plantation is drawn from diverse strata of cultural legacies and inheritance. The desolations, the comedy of adversity, the contrasting moods of individual and collective character give a ritual, however incongruous, substance to the fate of a dying Empire.'

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Jan Lowe Shinebourne

Jan Lowe Shinebourne was born in Berbice, Guyana, and educated at Berbice High School and the University of Guyana. She comes from the same area of Guyana as her near contemporaries, Cyril Dabydeen and Arnold Itwaru. After school she was a reporter in the city, Georgetown, and contributed to the literary magazine, ‘Expression’. She began writing in the mid 1960s and in 1974 she was a prize-winner in the National History and Arts Council Literary Competition. 
In 1987, she was also awarded with the Guyana Prize for Literature, in the Best First Book of Fiction category. Shinebourne was the first woman to have won the prize. In an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Shinebourne commented, “what I was honoured by was the fact that I have won the prize and [been] recognized by my own country. That was the greatest honour”.

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