These are not comfortable childhoods, and several stories show the pressures of poverty and despair leading to the abuse of children by their parents. Stories deal with the trauma of urbanisation as Indians are drawn from the country to Port of Spain, though even in the villages, where the shining metal of the oil refineries dwarfs the grasscutter tending his oxen, old ways must change.
Ismith Khan brings a tender and affecting style to stories of troubled childhoods, questioning youth and adult struggle. This is beautiful writing to savour beyond place and time.
"The brilliant short story 'A Day in the Country' has a home in my heart. It reminded me of the intense, uplifting genius of Thomas Wolfe’s (1900-1938) short story 'Circus at Dawn'. In both stories the concentration on life, on living, on things seen, heard and felt, is so full and rich that plot becomes unnecessary. But 'A Day in the Country' is much more than a generous slice of life, and it does much more than revel in secure country childhood, or celebrate boyhood in the countryside. It makes a moving, ominous communication about the unsheltering of Trinidad, about its unprepared journey, from the 'Drinking Rum and Coca Cola' years of the 40s and 50s to the bewildering, homogeneous brutality of the 20th century."
Keith Jardim, The Trinidad Guardian
Ismith Khan was born in Trinidad in 1925. He is the author of The Jumbie Bird and The Obeah Man. He lived in New York until his death in 2002.