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Friday, 7 November 2008

On Pynter Bender

Pynter Bender, the new novel by Grenadian writer Jacob Ross, is turning some heads in the UK, where it was recently published. Reviewing it in the Independent, Kevin Le Gendre says Pynter Bender has "an epic grandeur that recalls Patrick Chamoiseau's landmark 1992 novel Texaco." Catherine Taylor, on the other hand, in her brief review in the UK Guardian, wishes the novel were "a third shorter".

And Philip Hensher considers the novel's possible impact on Grenada in a "Week in Culture" column in today's Independent:

From here, if we have an interest, Caribbean fiction as a whole looks immensely rich and rewarding. There's a substantial amount of interesting and original writing in English, French and Spanish from the region, which we happily acknowledge as a whole. What tends to be forgotten from this distance is the fact that readers in the region think of themselves much less as "Caribbean", and much more as citizens of a particular country. For a Grenadian, it is much more worth celebrating that a novelist such as Ross has emerged from his particular history than that a St Lucian like Derek Walcott or a Trinidadian like VS Naipaul has won the Nobel Prize. Ross makes it clear that his island has had a tragic history of its own, which we hardly knew about or had forgotten; the novel that sets out those national tragedies has now been written.

So is Pynter Bender the great Grenadian novel? Perhaps this excerpt (PDF format) published in the Fall-Winter 2005 edition of the online journal Calabash gives a hint.

1 comment:

Audrey Whitburn said...

This novel *deserves* to be all the rage here in the UK. I bought it on the recommendation of a friend, started it and didn't want to put it down. It is a beautifully written, ambitious work, and (for me) a revelation in terms of that part of the world, its people, their history and the literature from that region. It does not read like a first novel. Like Hensher says in the review you pointed to; this is the work of a great writer.