WOMEN WHO READ
Miguel Street by Gurudev Sir Vidya Naipaul has been given a new life. Dusted off the bookshelves of the Princes Town library for WOMEN WHO READ, the book will be discussed at abook club meetup taking place on Wednesday 16th at NALIS, Princes Town from 4.30 to 5.30 p.m.
The Nobel Laureate’s earlier works including Mystic Masseur and House for Mr Biswas inspired many Indo-Caribbean writers who studied his work to pen books of their own and to them Naipaul remains the Guru.
Miguel Street opens to familiar people and places. It also brings us close to the local born author who is affectionately known by his family as Vidoo. He possesses a sharp wit and a loveable personality with which he is able to charm others as he chooses. Few of us are lucky to have a relationship with him.
Once in New Delhi, he arrived early to attend a Divali celebration organised by the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission. H.C Maniedeo Persad and his wife were performing pooja and I was asked to receive our special guest. Sir Vidya was in high spirits. A special area was reserved for him. Following his footsteps, a long line soon formed and one by one, the people of Delhi was able to meet the writer whose roots were embedded on home soil and whose work had triggered a sense of pride among them. He took a keen interest asking question as photographs were taken and soon he was deep in conversation with Professor R. Narayan and Abdul Naffey. The evening was magical for me.
The selection of Miguel Street was welcome by WOMEN WHO READ. The library suggested “Perspero’s Daughter” by Elizabeth Nunez and “Green Days by the River” by Michael Anthony.
The Book Club selection is deliberate. It seeks to highlight the works of lesser known local writers such as Sharlow Mohammed, Lester Orie, Ashram Maharaj, Vishnu Gosine, Kris Rampersad and Krishna Samaroo among others.
There is no denying a history of suppression of Indian literature, local and otherwise by Caribbean leaders. In addition, Indo-Caribbean writers have complained of getting no feedback from Bocas Lit Fest competitions nor are their books purchased for the public libraries.
Princes Town library kicked off this season with Hush. Don’t Cry by Ariti Jankie (that’s me!). Two women cried as they gave their verbal review. The little book that has gone big, as publisher Magicwords like to say tells the story of a young girl of the 1980s who sought a boy from India for marriage. Her struggles and triumph typical of the local woman resonated among readers.
Miguel Street offers a look at who we are and from where we came.
WOMEN WHO READ outnumbered men interested in reading though there are many who follows the book club and read the selections. NALIS has encouraged book clubs but the agenda remains uncertain as the book selection available leaves much to be desired. A request was made to read Louis Lee Sing, “Letters to my daughter” and it is hoped that sufficient copies would become available as well as the presence of the writer in Princes Town to sit down to read and converse pulling out of their hiding places literary gems that may continue to gather dust.