There is the mystery of his mother who appears only when the aunt falls ill and the emergence of life shaped between expatriate Monserratians and African America that carries him towards the theatre in the USA and Britain.
There are periodic returns to Montserrat – a sadly comic tale of a purloined family inheritance and the discovery of a father and his parents’ improbable relationship: a mother brought up in genteel idleness and a father from tough Kinsale, who ran “the best damn gambling house” in neighbouring Antigua. There follows a life-long struggle to work out how such a small island could generate so many contradictions, outsize characters and the capacity to survive the worst that nature could throw at her people. The answer, in part, lies in the island’s mix of African and Irish heritage – about which White has many pungently outrageous things to say.
The latest return to Montserrat came, characteristically, when around two-thirds the population had left after the volcanic eruption of 1995. From his position under the volcano, White looks both without and within: to a global experience that includes the USA, England and Iraq as well as Montserrat; and to a personal life of children, marriage, relationships, family, theatre – to depths of despair and peaks of joy.
Whether you agree or disagree with White’s opinions about everything from prisons, education, incest, American foreign policy, the “Standing Ground” laws that helped kill Travyon Martin, terrorism and Ebola, Deported to Paradise engages with its exuberant prose, freshness of vision and sardonic wit. Whether in the opinion pieces or the “memories”, Edgar Nkosi White displays all his dramatist’s inventiveness and comfort with contradiction.
Edgar Nkosi White is a playwright and novelist. His work has been performed throughout the world. He has received a Rockefeller award, and was Writer in Residence at New York City College where he also taught Creative Writing.