WRITE GREAT FICTION:
PLOT AND STRUCTURE
Congratulations, Sophie. It's on it's way.
Remember how back in January, I promised to have some multicultural offerings in the giveaways?
May I present Buxton Spice by Oonya Kempadoo, who has lived in several Caribbean territories as well as England.
Told in the voice of a girl as she moves from childhood into adolescence, Buxton Spice is the story the town of Tamarind Grove: its eccentric families, its sweeping joys, and its sudden tragedies. The novel brings to life 1970s Guyana-a world at a cultural and political crossroads-and perfectly captures a child's keen observations, sense of wonder, and the growing complexity of consciousness that marks the passage from innocence to experience.
I honestly don't read a lot of books by Caribbean authors. Lots of Caribbean books seem to take the super-literary take itself too seriously route. And that's fine for some readers, but not for me.
The thing that most stands out to me in Buxton Spice is the portrayal of sex. I'd never really thought about how the facets of sex are different in the Caribbean than how I've seen it portrayed in mainstream books. In some ways, sex is always just below the surface here. Many of the calypsoes (songs) have a double entendre, with other words used to cleverly (or not so cleverly) take about sex. There's an old calypso, where a man and a woman are dancing together and the women says to the man, "Something in ya pocket keep sticking me," and the man responds, "It's a ripe plaintain."
Kempadoo also provides a look at politics and corruption in Guyana. When you say corruption, I think of Guyana. Guyana has just about every natural resource I can think of: gold, diamonds, bauxite, lumber, a little oil, etc, etc. It should be one of the richest countries in the world. Instead it's one of the poorest countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. In my view, that's mismanagement and corruption.
Buxton Spice also shows so many of the "characters" in a Caribbean neighbourhood. Things are a lot more "Americanised" than they were in the '70s, but there is a lot that hasn't changed.
There is one caveat. The book uses a lot of dialect. It's not particular hard to understand, but it does take some getting used to. I suppose it's not so much dialect as a Caribbean style of speech. For example, instead of using "very" we repeat a verb for emphasis. "After a long day of work, I tired tired tired."
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