Guyana Boy
In 1940s British Guiana, sugar estate life is still 'too slavish'. Under the iron rule of the white manager and with work practices little changed since the days of slavery and indenture, the workers' children are expected to follow their parents into a life of unremitting toil. This, though, is not to be the fate of Lilboy. His access to education, limited though it is, takes him inexorably away from the world of his parents.
Peter Kempadoo
ISBN number
Fiction, Short Stories
Country setting
Publication date
01 Jul 2002

In this classic Caribbean novel, first published in 1960, and now reisued for the first time, Peter Lauchmonen Kempadoo draws on his own life as the son of sugar workers to portray a world lacking in freedom, but where the workers struggle to maintain their identity as Madrassis in their rice plots, their fishing expeditions and in the feasts and festivities their ancestors brought from India. Still as fresh as the day it was written, Guyana Boy is important as one of the first Caribbean novels 'of the people' to be written by one who came from within that world.

On the estate, little is hidden from children, and Guyana Boy relates Lilboy's growing awareness of both sexuality and death. He witnesses the terror of Pa's battle with dying and learns from his layabout Uncle Tomby that keeping two women has its perils as well as pleasures, and what was Teacher Cort doing to the donkey? Above all, Guyana Boy is an unforgettable recreation of the sights, smells, sounds and other sensual pleasures of a rural childhood.


Peter Kempadoo

Peter Lauchmonen Kempadoo was born on a sugar estate in Guyana in 1926, in a community mainly of Indians whose foreparents had come from Madras. It provides the setting for his autobiographical novel, Guyana Boy (1960 and Peepal Tree, 2001). After leaving school he worked for a time in the sugar factory, then as a teacher and later as a reporter in Georgetown. He has returned frequently to Guyana where he did important work in the 1970s taping folk performances and documenting a people's culture which has now largely disappeared.
View full profile