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Dark Swirl

Authors: Cyril Dabydeen

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9780948833205

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When a European naturalist arrives in a remote South American village, how are the villagers to respond to his promise to remove the monstrous massacouraman from the creek? Is he a saviour freeing them from its danger, or is he threatening to take away something which is uniquely theirs for display in an American or European zoo? Folk belief confronts rationalistic science in this poetic fable which sees events through both European and village eyes.

Set in the remote Canje region, the villagers in Dark Swirl feel that they have only the most vestigial remnants of their original Hindu world view. They have, indeed, absorbed much of the local mix of Amerindian/African folk beliefs - in the existence of the legendary massacouraman, for instance. What they still have, though, is a residual Hindu view of the interconnectedness of all living things, though in their state of rootlessness this sometimes expresses itself in feelings of mutual hostility and unwarranted cruelty.

Dreams are the interconnecting territory between the myth of the massacouraman and the innermost fantasies and intuitions of the villagers that relate to their fears concerning their loss of authenticity and their unbelonging. And it is in a dreamlike state induced by sickness, where he can no longer disentangle what is real from what is in his imagination, that the ‘divided selves’ of the European stranger begin speaking to him as: ‘twin messengers with contrary tales’. In the process his whole structure of thought is profoundly altered.

"Massacouraman is a formidable Guyanese folk legend... Dark Swirl seeks to plumb its pertinence to all factions, groups, races, insiders, outsiders. The novel seeks to evoke an inner region lying somewhere between the science of the stranger and the fantasies and visions of the village folk. Before they part company they appear to see through interchangeable eyes into the mysteries of a nature in a long state of eclipse..."
Wilson Harris

Cyril Dabydeen was born in Guyana in 1945. He migrated to Canada in 1970. He is the author of almost a dozen collections of poetry, two novels and six collections of short stories.
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