The Coral Rooms

Written by Chris Searle for Morning Star on

Reading Anthony Kellman’s The Coral Rooms after Henfrey’s stories, is to find the same fictional terrain, founded on the same rock, yet led by a very different range of experience.
For Kellman’s novel is set in a life of despair and self-disgust, and its protagonist’s instinct is for escape rather than struggle. This is not to deny its power though, for it is a story wrapped in relevance and insight.

Percival Veer is the prosperous head of Public Relations in the Federal Bank of Charouga, a Caribbean island. His career has been fraught with back-stabbing and corruption. His sense of guilt and self-loathing is magnified by nightly dreams of the threatening mouths of caves. Rejecting the world of image and the superficial, he leaves his work and turns to explore the great limestone caves of Barbados, responding to 'voices from centuries gone, voices suppressed yet urgent.' Here, led by an old cane-cutter who articulates the voice of the struggling people, he finds 'the flesh of his dream.'

The Coral Rooms is the story of a rejection of a neocolonial life of falsity and finance, for the substance of a people’s culture and the deep sap of their blood and history. It speaks with a combination of the symbolic and the real and in a century of pages, carries a potent message of renewal from the source.