Roy A. K. Heath, Author Allison & Busby $0 (255p) ISBN 978-0-85031-528-8
Native speech and habits, the wildness of the rain and lush vegetation are so accurately summoned here that Guyana, where the action takes place, becomes the reader's own world. Ben, an educated black who writes for the local papers, must curry horses for a meager living, which he supplements with casual thievery. Finally caught and jailed, he is released into the uncomfortable custody of Thomas Schwartz, a petty and not particularly honest public servant. Although Ben is married and has a clamorous mistress as well, he is put under house arrest at Schwartz's home, allowed to leave only to saddle the horse and take his master to work. Inexorably, his rancor grows, exacerbated by the wealth of his master's wife and the light-brown skin that makes Schwartz his superior. When Mrs. Schwartz sails to America, Ben catches her husband in bed with her best friend and tries blackmail, demanding higher wages and greater freedom in return for silence. But slowly, while once again in prisonthis time on trumped-up chargesit dawns on him that freedom cannot be bought and that chasing after money and women is as confining as house arrest. This realization leads to murder. Occasional moralizing aside, the book's desolate honesty sobers and disturbs at the same time its vivid portrayal of people and place invigorates. Heath (Kwaky is a Guyanese lawyer and teacher who lives in London. (December 1)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1984
Release date: 01/01/1984
Genre: Fiction
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