The language of ordinary people, with all its figurative power and creative energy, can often describe the inside of political events with more truth and candour than that of the most lettered scholar. In post-colonial Guyana too, ‘sometimes them boys does sputter cuss words like water from well-pipe as if they been born with all the dictionary adjective in their mouths.’ And it is the brilliance of narrative arrangement of such ‘cuss words’ of authentic working life, that Rooplall Monar achieves in his collection of Guyanese short stories High House and Radio. 

The predominantly Indo-Guyanese sugar workers have made the move from cramped accommodation on the estates to the roomier housing scheme in Annandale village. But with progress in housing comes a break-up of the old loyalties, a more status-ridden and competitive mentality which fuels disunity and a threat to the old social solidarity. And this particularly when some villages are solidly Indo-Guyanese and others almost completely Afro-Guyanese. Monar’s sharp vignettes portray this tension and rising communalism 1962- 64 with a razor-sharpness and sure grasp of popular speech patterns and poetry which rejects the ‘backraman language in London.’ All through these memorable stories, Monar’s characters view social and political life through the lens of their village universe, and change disturbs them, disorientates them, the ‘whole world shatter like broken bottle in the street.’

Chris Searle