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Illustrious Exile: Journal of my Sojourn in the West Indies by Robert Burns, Esq. Commenced on the first day of July 1786

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9781845230289

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In 1786, the Scottish poet Robert Burns, penniless and needing to escape the consequences of his complicated love life, accepted the position of book-keeper on an estate in Jamaica. The success of his Poems chiefly in the Scottish Dialect made this escape unnecessary. Thus far is historical fact. In Andrew Lindsay’s novel, Burns indeed goes to Jamaica and then to the Dutch colony of Demerara where, into the world of sugar and slavery, he brought his propensity for falling in love, his humanity and his urge to write poetry. In 1997 a small mahogany chest is found in a Wai Wai Amerindian village in Guyana. It contains Burns’ journal from 1786 to 1796, when he died.

Andrew Lindsay’s novel is a work of imaginative invention, poetic description and meticulous historical reconstruction. As a fellow Scot who has settled in Guyana, Lindsay brings an incomer’s fresh eye to the Caribbean landscape and imaginative insights into how Burns as a man of his times might have responded to slavery. Not least, Illustrious Exile contains some brilliant versions of Burns’ poems, as written in the Caribbean.

Andrew O. Lindsay was born in Scotland and now splits his time between Fife and Guyana. Illustrious Exile is his first novel.
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