Confronted by the old “White alliance” of land-owners, the official church and the magistracy, and the two-faced attitudes of the village shopkeeper and schoolteacher, Rufus is fatally undermined by his own naivety, ignorance and misogyny. The latter cuts him off from the intelligence and support of his partner Stella, and from Clementina, the preacher at the village church, who has leadership skills Rufus can only dream of.
First published in 1964, this acerbic tragi-comedy of status, play-acting and double-dealing reveals a Barbadian nation still deeply entrenched in the colonial structures of economic power, class and race. The novel’s challenge to decolonise both structures and mentalities still speaks powerfully to the present. A powerful debut in a distinguished literary career and a novel whose bleak comedy of absurdity connects it to Orlando Patterson’s existentialist tragedy, The Children of Sisyphus, which came out the following year.
With an introduction by Aaron Kamugisha
Austin C. Clarke is hailed as a pioneer of Caribbean-Canadian literature and is one of Canada's most prolific, if not well known, writers.