Place of birth
Trinidad and Tobago
National identity
Trinidad and Tobago

Sharlow Mohammed

Short biography
Sharlow(e) Mohammed was born in the village of Longdenville in the agricultural area of central Trinidad in 1949. He attended the Longdenville Government School where his commitment to writing was nurtured. Secondary school was, he says, ‘a waste of four years’ except for the English classes. After school he worked at a succession of jobs, including boilerman, fireman and office work. He then went to night classes to extend his education. Thereafter, supported by his wife, he began to write full-time.

"His first published book was Requiem for a Village and Apartheid Love (Inprint Caribbean, 1982), two novellas which deal respectively with the destructive impact of fundamentalist American Christian preaching missions on the tolerances of village life and on the racial bigotry which manifested itself at a personal level in a period of increasing Afro-Indian political tensions.

Coming from a Muslim family, Sharlow was a convert to Presbyterian Christianity, which has a tradition of tolerant, sometimes syncretic respect towards the Indian culture of its almost wholly Indo-Caribbean members. Sharlow returned to the destructive, corrupting influence of American, exclusive, Christian fundamentalism in The Elect (Peepal Tree, 1992). This is a satirical account of the cultural imperialism, crass materialism and reactionary, bigoted politics of the missions of the fundamentalist Christian Right (funded by the Southern States of America) that infested Trinidad and other parts of the Caribbean in the 1970s and 1980s. In a period of rapid social change, political deadlock and economic uncertainty, Sharlow Mohammed’s novel shows how the religious certainties and cultural Americanism (of a narrow, illiberal type) appealed to those who no longer really knew who they were. From the evidence of one or two reviews, the novel evidently got under some American skins."