The stories in the second half of the collection echo the experience of many thousands who fled from the political repression, corruption and social collapse of the 70s and 80s. The awareness of the characters is shot through with Guyanese images, voices and unanswered questions. It is through these that their new experiences of Britain and North America are filtered. One character lies in a hospital in London fighting for her life, but hears the voices of her childhood in Guyana – her mother, African Miss K, the East Indian pandit and the English Anglican priest. Once again, they ‘war for the role of guide in her life’. In ‘The Godmother’ and ‘Hopscotch’, childhood friends reunite in London. Two have stayed in Guyana, while one has settled in London. The warmth of shared memories and cold feelings of betrayal, difference and loss vie for dominance in their interactions.
These stories crystallize the shifts in Guyana’s uncomfortable fortunes in the post-colonial period, and while they are exact and unsparing in their truth-telling, there are always layers of complexity that work through their realistic surfaces: a sensitivity to psychological undertones, the evocative power of memory and a poetic sense of the Guyanese physical space.
Jan Lowe Shinebourne was born in Guyana and now lives in Sussex, U.K. She is writing her fourth work, a family saga spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; set in China, Europe and the Caribbean.