Barbadian-born Alphonso Hutson has lived in the USA for nearly sixteen years. But he cannot settle. He has dragged his long-suffering American wife, Simone, and their children from house to rented house. He has refused to share with her any real explanation for the complex feelings that drive him. But this time she has had enough of his ‘sorry restlessness’, refuses to move with him and threatens the end of their marriage. Only then is Alphonso forced into confronting the ghosts that propel his perpetual migrancy.
The ghosts lie in his native Barbados. There is the love, shame and guilt he feels for the dead parents whose funerals he failed to attend, and there is the mystery of the brother he has never seen, hidden away in an institution. All is complicated by his mixed feelings for his homeland. It is the place that still feeds his imagination, but as a boy from a Black working class family he has felt excluded from the class structures of a country still dominated by a privileged White minority.
There is also the family house, locked up and at risk of being vandalised and Alphonso finally recognises that he cannot put off making a return, the first since his departure. In what follows Kellman combines a poetic and imaginative exploration of Alphonso’s personal journey into his past, with an acute engagement with racial and political issues as he rediscovers his country in the midst of turmoil as the old order is challenged.
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Anthony Kellman was born in Barbados. He currently teaches at Augusta
Published: 31 January 2004