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Sunday, 4 May 2008

Links, links, links

- In today's Stabroek News, a substantial (though unsigned) obituary of the late Wordsworth McAndrew:

With the onset of state-sponsored international cultural events such as the first Caribbean Festival of the Arts and with state control of radio broadcasting, there was much less space for McAndrew’s way of doing things. Independent and individualistic, he still spoke as he liked, wrote as he liked and dressed as he liked. He was ill at ease with the bureaucratic formalities and the orthodoxy of the well-dressed career civil servants who ran the Ministry of Culture. He quit the public service and the country prematurely, forfeiting his superannuation benefits and going into exile in 1978 to languish in obscurity as an underpaid copy editor in New York.

- Speaking of the Caribbean Festival of the Arts a.k.a. Carifesta: also in today's Stabroek News, Al Creighton reports that Derek Walcott will be the guest of honour at Carifesta X in Guyana in August, even though in the past he has been "very critical of the festival, launching a devastating broadside against its merits and its contribution to the development of the arts in the region."

- Meanwhile, the Carifesta organisers still haven't posted a proper schedule of events on the festival website, but if you poke around a bit you'll find a PDF document that lists five "signal exhibitions" on the visual arts programme: shows of "Voodoo Art" from Haiti and "Djuka Art" from Suriname, retrospectives by Stanley Greaves of Guyana/Barbados and Ras Akyem and Ras Ishi Butcher of Barbados, and also a retrospective by Trinidadian LeRoy Clarke. (I had a flash of déjà vu when I read about that last one--wasn't there a Clarke retrospective at Carifesta 2006? And also at Carifesta 1995? Might there not be another Caribbean artist worth giving this honour to?)

- Patrick French, author of the new V.S. Naipaul biography The World Is What It Is, is in India, giving lots of interviews--to Monica Bathija, for the Times of India; G. Sampath, for DNA; and Mita Kapur, for The Hindu. From the DNA interview:

Before I took on this project, I knew him only slightly, had met him only a couple of times. He has a reputation as a villain, and so when I discovered the ways in which he'd behaved badly I wasn't particularly surprised. But having said that, when you consider the early period of his life, I found a lot of reasons to feel sympathetic towards him. The one thing that was a shock, was how tough his life had been in 1950s London. When he tried to get a job, he was told he had the wrong sort of face. Or when he tried to get accommodation, he couldn't get it. He didn't have enough money for food. The extent of that struggle, in 1950s London, was something he had never spoken about before, even though it was an experience similar to what millions of others went through. He's always separated himself from that and made out as of he won the scholarship to Oxford and thereafter made himself into a great writer. That struggle was quite a surprise to me.

A couple of reviews have also appeared in the Indian press, including one by Makarand Paranjape in India Today, and another by Rumina Sethi in The Hindu.

- And at the PEN American Centre blog, Marlon James reports on two more events at the World Voices festival, a panel discussion called Do You Believe? and another ("the bad boys panel") called Mean Streets.