Place of birth
Place of residence
United States of America
National identity

Rooplall Monar

Short biography
Rooplall Monar was born in a mud floor logie on the Lusignan sugar estate, East Coast Demerara, in 1945. His parents were both caneworkers, and his mother continued to work on her own ground provision plot daily, long after she retired. The family moved to Annandale Village in 1953 to a houselot with its own plot. This, much extended over the years, remains Monar's home. He attended Lusignan Government school, Buxton Congregational School, Hindu College and Annandale Evening College. He has worked as a teacher, accounts clerk, freelance journalist, broadcaster and practitioner of folk healing (herbal cures).

He began writing in the mid-1960s and came to notice in 1967 with a prize-winning poem, 'The Creole Gang'. His early poems were published in New World, Kaie, Voices and various anthologies. His first published collection, Meanings (1972) begins his exploration of the the consciousness of the Indo-Guyanese 'divided by horizon's edges, yet/ telling of no other worlds/ but mine'. His second collection, Patterns (1983) continued the creative but painful potential of this limbo consciousness, asking 'Who am I/between buried copper trunks/voices in the cemeteries?/Oh whom am I/between a dying consciousness,/a growing vision.'

Monar also began to write short stories, encouraged by his blood brother, the folklorist and poet Wordsworth McAndrew, pushing the use of an Indo-Guyanese inflected Creole to a depth not seen before. The result of extensive interviews and listening to older people, these stories began to be broadcast on GBS around 1976, though it was almost another ten years before they saw publication as the classic Backdam People first published in 1985 and in a new edition in 1987. At this time, in the 1970s, Monar was part of the Messenger group, which included Rajkumari Singh, Guska Kissoon and Beatrice Muniyan, and part of an Annandale group of poets which included Bramdeo Persaud, George Vidyahanand and Randall Butisingh. However, deaths, emigration and the despairs of the later Burnham years broke up most of these associations.

After Backdam People, Peepal Tree brought out a collection of Monar's poems, Koker (1987), followed by his novel, Janjhat (1989) which explores the tempestuous first year of a marriage under the interfering pressure of the boy's mother. The move from estate to village life is explored in the short stories of High House and Radio which sees the backdam people leave their logies for their new high houses and the coherent Indianness of the estate challenged by the new visions brought by the radio, politicians and the pursuit of more individual lives.

Since then Monar has written two works of popular fiction, Ramsingh Street and Tormented Wives (1999).

In 1987 he was awarded a special Judges' Prize for his contribution to Guyanese writing.