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High House and Radio

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9780948833120

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The backdam people of Lusignan Estate have left the sugar company's cramped barrack housing and moved to their own individual houses in Annandale Village. They enjoy better conditions, freedom from interference by the estate authorities and more involvement in the wider life of Guyana. But something has gone - the old closeness, the old certainties - as the people exchange their communal life for their own separate 'high houses', and the coherent Indianness of the estate days is challenged by the new messages brought by the radio, politicians and 'clap-hand' Christians.

In these stories of trade unionists, cooks, cricketers, political activists, rogues and small boys, Monar creates a vivid, picaresque world of people struggling to make sense of changes which they are experiencing at the deepest levels of consciousness. The same character who invests his energies in trickster strategems can also cry out in depair, 'No meaning, no purpose. O Gawd is where yuh deh?' In focusing on the 1950s and 1960s, several of the stories confront the tendency towards amnesia with regard to the outbreak of ethnic conflict between the Indians of Annandale and the Africans of neighbouring Buxton. The last story in the collection reflects on the next stage of the journey as the former backdam people begin to leave Guyana for new lives in Britain. These stories are told in the creole voices of their characters.

Rooplall Monar was born on the Lusignan sugar estate in Guyana in 1945. Apart from brief overseas visits he has lived in Guyana all his life, in Annandale village, East Coast Demerara.
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