A Day in the Country
In these stories of Indian life in Trinidad in the 1940s and 50s, Ismith Khan brings to vivid life the morning smells of eggplant frying in coconut oil, and herrings baking in the embers of the earthen fireplace; childhoods such as Pooran's, who has to make his way between the poetic mythology of the pundit and the cold, rationalistic materialism of his science teacher, or 'Thiney Boney' who, newly arrived in Port of Spain from the country, has to choose between his new Creole friends and his father's harsh moral certainties.
Ismith Khan
ISBN number
Fiction, Short Stories
Country setting
Trinidad and Tobago
Publication date
01 May 1994

These are not comfortable childhoods, and several stories show the pressures of poverty and despair leading to the abuse of children by their parents. Stories deal with the trauma of urbanisation as Indians are drawn from the country to Port of Spain, though even in the villages, where the shining metal of the oil refineries dwarfs the grasscutter tending his oxen, old ways must change. Ismith Khan brings a tender and affecting style to stories of troubled childhoods, questioning youth and adult struggle. This is beautiful writing to savour beyond place and time.

Keith Jardim writes in The Trinidad Guardian: 'The brilliant short story ""A Day in the Country"" has a home in my heart. It reminded me of the intense, uplifting genius of Thomas Wolfe’s (1900-1938) short story "Circus at Dawn". In both stories the concentration on life, on living, on things seen, heard and felt, is so full and rich that plot becomes unnecessary. But ""A Day in the Country"" is much more than a generous slice of life, and it does much more than revel in secure country childhood, or celebrate boyhood in the countryside. It makes a moving, ominous communication about the unsheltering of Trinidad, about its unprepared journey, from the ""Drinking Rum and Coca Cola"" years of the 40s and 50s to the bewildering, homogeneous brutality of the 20th century.'

Ismith Khan was born in Trinidad in 1925. He is the author of The Jumbie Bird and The Obeah Man. He lived in New York until his death in 2002.


Ismith Khan

Ismith Khan was born in Trinidad in 1925. He grew up within a Muslim family, who came from the country to Port of Spain, strongly influenced by his grandfather, a Pathan from Northern India, who was a militant community leader who had been shot and wounded by the colonial authorities in their suppression of the San Fernando Hosay rebellion of 1884. Ismith Khan makes use of this background in his first novel, The Jumbie Bird, 1961.
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