Awarded the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction
The essays in this collection range across politics, literature, the visual arts, social commentary, memoirs and tributes. They encompass Guyana and the wider Caribbean, including the suicide of the Grenadian revolution and the American invasion (of which Roopnaraine was an intimate witness).
For the past thirty or more years, Rupert Roopnaraine has played a leading part in a Guyanese battle for an inclusionary democracy, social justice, racial harmony and the creation of a decolonised civil society with culture and the imagination at its heart. What he has stood for is clearly demonstrated in the range and style of these essays. They reveal a passionate enemy of authoritarianism and ethnic chauvinism (including, for instance, the continuing disrespect shown to Guyana’s Amerindian population) but they also show a man who can respond to the human qualities of his political opponents.
Essays on Walter Rodney, the republican ideal, Cheddi Jagan, Desmond Hoyte, Martin Carter, Edgar Mittelholzer, AJ Seymour and Kyk-over-Al, the lexicographer Richard Allsop, and the artists Hawley Harris, Philip Moore, Winston Strick, Ras Ishi, Ras Akyem, and Stanley Greaves, reveal yet again that there are few Caribbean critics who write with such grace and insight. Indeed, one sees in the qualities of Roopnaraine’s even occasional pieces the presence of a Caribbean Hazlitt, with the same radical instincts, sharp antennae for the spirit of the age and a prose style that is both elegant and intensely alive.
The presence and values of three close comrades – Martin Carter, Walter Rodney and Eusi Kwayana – infuse this collection as the touchstones to which Rupert Roopnaraine constantly returns as evidence of the capacity of Guyana and the Caribbean for a politics that has intellectual acumen, imagination and moral passion at its centre.
With forewords by Richard Drayton and Alissa Trotz.