Disparate worlds collide in Williams's two novellas. In My Planet of Ras
a young German woman joins a Rastafarian commune in Jamaica. Under the guidance of Selassie, reader and healer with herbs, Ikael, artist-painter, and Kilmanjaro, master drummer, and under the healing influence of 'the herb of nations' she learns to marvel, and to understand the true nature of community ('You and I talking, one and one - that is community! Hardest thing to build these days. Not enough empty reflecting silence, like mortar, to build with'). Williams' portrayal of the rootedness, the inner calm and visionary enlightment of the group is movingly convincing, not least because the novella realistically conveys the group's vulnerability, temptations and the costs of their denials. In their rejection of materialism and competition, they indeed have to live as if they are on another planet, constantly threatened by the surrounding Babylon.What Happening There, Prash
, is a contrary and equally convincing portrayal of the magnetic pull of North America and its offer of the possibilities of individual recognition, competitive edge and material success. Prash and his wife Sookmoon abandon the decaying 'socialist' republic of Guyana for New York and for Sookmoon, at least, there is the chance, eagerly seized, to remake her life as a liberated woman. But when Prash gets mixed up in some serious drugs business, he discovers that the freedom of the market has its price.N.D. Williams
is Guyanese and lives in New York. In 1976 his novel Ikael Torass
won the prestigious Casa de las Americas prize.