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They Came in Ships: an Anthology of Indo-Guyanese Writing

From 1838 until 1917, Indians arrived to work as indentured labourers in Guyana. The majority never returned to India and today over 50% of the Guyanese population is of Indian origin.


Joel Benjamin, Ian McDonald
Anthologies, Poetry, Fiction, Short Stories
Date published
1 Feb 1998

This anthology of prose and poetry shows how the Indians changed the character of Guyana and the Caribbean and how, over 150 years of settlement, Indians became Indo-Guyanese. Ranging from the earliest attempts at cultural self-definition in the 19th century (and early narrative images of the Indian presence in non-Indian writing), to the creative writing of the 1990s, this anthology provides a fascinating insight into the transformation of an ancient culture in the New World.

Extracts from novels, short stories, essays and poems explore the experience of plantation life, of relationships with other ethnic groups, issues of gender within Indo-Guyanese culture and the adjustments in cultural practices which separation from India and involvement with the new environment required.

Brief introductory essays by Jeremy Poynting set historical contexts, and there is an invaluable bibliography of Indo-Guyanese writing. This is the only anthology of its kind.

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Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin was the Deputy Librarian and Archivist at the University of Guyana. Before he died at the tragically early age of 45 in 1989, he contributed immensely to the collating and preserving of material and information vital to Guyana’s historical and cultural knowledge. His articles, on little known Guyanese literature and 19th century drama, were published in Kyk-over-Al.

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Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald was born in Trinidad in 1933. After attending school in Port of Spain he went to university in Cambridge to read History. He was a gifted tennis player and captained both the Cambridge and the West Indies Davis cup team. He first went to Guyana in 1955 and has lived there ever since.

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