A young man is killed in a traffic accident at a Welsh seaside resort of Caedmon. Drawing inspiration from the nouveau roman of Robbe-Grillet and Duras, Williams gives us the intensive reality of the scene through a small group of witnesses: inhabitants and visitors – and a ghostly revenant. One of these is Joss Banks, the retired English owner of a printing works. He is on a mission to placate his estranged wife, Bid, by recovering the artwork of her late first husband and his former employee. He, we learn, committed suicide when he discovers that Bid is carrying Banks’s child. During the three hours of the novel’s time-frame we are privy to a series of startling encounters involving Josh and the evidence of his bad conscience.
Denis Williams lived for a time in North Wales – the subject also of his daughter Charlotte Williams’s memoir Sugar and Slate
– and here, in one of the most daringly experimental of Caribbean novels, he transposes his Guyanese concerns with power (the third temptation of Christ), the colonial relationship, passion, betrayal and guilt to the Welsh environment, bringing to it a vibrant Caribbean artist’s eye.
Denis Williams was a highly accomplished artist, who also taught and published in the fields of West Indian and African art and anthropology, and, from 1974, was Director of Art and Archaeology with Guyana’s Ministry of Education and Culture.