“Barbara Jenkins writes with wit, wisdom and a glorious sense of place. In stories that chart a woman’s life, and that of her island home, this triumphant debut affirms a lifetime of perceptive observation of Caribbean life and society.”
Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Editor of Granta Magazine
“Barbara Jenkins mixes a lyrical prose style with a close and humane eye for the human condition[…] She is a major new talent emerging in Caribbean fiction.”
Monique Roffey, author of Archipelago, winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction 2013 and the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 2013
The stories in Sic Transit Wagon move from the all-seeing naivete of a child narrator trying to make sense of the world of adults, through the consciousness of the child-become mother, to the mature perceptions of the older woman taking stock of her life. Set over a time-span from colonial era Trinidad to the hazards and alarms of its postcolonial present, at the core of these stories is the experience of uncomfortable change, but seen with a developing sense of its constancy as part of life, and the need for acceptance.
The stories deal with the vulnerabilities and shames of a childhood of poverty, the pain of being let down, glimpses of the secret lives of adults, betrayals in love, the temptations of possessiveness, conflicts between the desire for belonging and independence, and the devastation of loss through illness, dementia and death. What brings each of these not uncommon situations to fresh and vivid life is the quality of the writing: the shape of the stories, the unerring capturing of the rhythms of the voice and a way of seeing – that includes a saving sense of humour and the absurd – that delights in the characters that people these stories.
In the title story – a playful pun on the Latin phrase on the glory of worldly things coming to an end – the need to part with a beloved station wagon becomes a moving and humorous image for other kinds of loss.
Barbara Jenkins lives in Trinidad. Her stories have won many prizes including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Caribbean region and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. In 2013 she was named winner of the inaugural Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize.