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The Island Quintet: Five Stories

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9781845230753

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Raymond Ramcharitar’s vision is rooted in Trinidad, but as a globalised island with permeable borders, frequent birds of passage, and outposts in New York and London.

One of the collection’s outstanding qualities is that it is both utterly contemporary and written with a profound and disturbed sense of the history that shapes the island. As befits fiction from the home of carnival and mas’, it is a collection much concerned with the flesh - often in transgressive forms as if characters are driven to test their boundaries - and with the capacity of its characters to reinvent themselves in manifold, and sometimes outrageous disguises. One of the masks is race, and the stories are acerbically honest about the way tribal loyalties distort human relations. Its tone ranges from the lyric - Trinidad as an island of arresting beauty - to a seaminess of the most grungy kind. It has an ambition that challenges a novel such as V.S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men, but is written with the anger and the compassion of a writer for whom the island still means everything.

In the novella, 'Froude’s Arrow', Ramcharitar has written a profound fiction that tells us where the Caribbean currently is in juxtaposing the deep, still to be answered questions about island existence (the fragmentations wrought by history, the challenges of smallness in the global market, race and class divides) and the scrabbling for survival, fame and fortune that arouse the ire of Ramcharitar’s acerbic and satirical vision.

Raymond Ramcharitar was born in Trinidad. He worked as a journalist and is the author of a controversial and provocative study of the deficiencies of the Trinidadian press, Breaking the News: Media & Culture in Trinidad.
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