Walter Castle is festering with dissatisfactions in the Laventille slum in Port of Spain. As the prospect of promotion recedes and the threat of crime and lawless and rootless youth become ever more insupportable, he begins to think of going back to the village community he grew up in. But as Lovelace shows in a series of flashbacks, the force of nostalgia is not supported by actual memory, though Walter constantly tries to deceive himself that it is. Set in a ‘present’ of 1956 when political change was coming to Trinidad, once Walter abandons the dream of return, he is forced to choose between becoming one of the drones who passes through life without making any mark on it, or standing up for himself in a way that only makes sense if he is engaged with others.
When this, Earl Lovelace’s first and politically most explicit novel, was first published in 1965, it could be seen as an astringent critique of the top-down authoritarianism of nationalist politics. Its emphasis on a world where decent people like Walter Castle feel that crime and violence is destroying the social body appears, 45 years later, to be uncomfortably contemporary.
Earl Lovelace (born 13 July 1935) is a Trinidadian novelist, journalist, playwright, and short story writer.