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In a moving novel that charts the fortunes of three generations of a Chinese family in the Caribbean, Jan Shinebourne explores the power of family myth, the seductiveness of invented traditions, and the way unconscious motivations seeded in painful childhood experience can resurface in adult life. For Joan Wong, growing up in a Chinese family in the political turmoil of 1960s Guyana, family history is never straightforward. There are the examples of her grandmothers – Clarice Chung, iron-willed matriarch who has ensured the family’s survival through unremitting toil, with her pride in maintaining racial and cultural identity, and Susan Leo, whose failures have shamed the family, who found comfort from harsh poverty in relationships with two Indian men and adopting an Indian life-style. Later, when Joan Wong makes her own pilgrimage to ancestral China at the turn of the twenty-first century, there are surprises in store.
A review of The Last Ship by distinguished Guyanese Canadian academic and critic Frank Birbalsingh
What Does It Mean to Live with the Physiognomy and Cultural Heritage of Chineseness in the Caribbean?
Anne-Marie Lee-Loy, Ryerson University, published in Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal.