5 journalers for this copy...
Hailed as "amazingly vivid and joyous" by The Times of London, Earl Lovelace's fifth novel Salt, an intriguing blend of contemporary and historical events in Trinidad, begins with a mythical story reminiscent of the well-known folktale "All God's Chillen Had Wings." It tells of Guinea John, who escapes slavery by flying back to Africa without revealing "the mysteries of levitation and flight" to his descendants who "had eaten salt and made themselves too heavy to fly."
The only perplexing flaw in this dense and multi-layered work is that it is, at times, downright puzzling. For one thing it takes a few chapters just to figure out who is telling the story and what the timeline is. The narrator, who remains unnamed, turns out to be one of Bango's nephews and one of Alford's students. So, eventually, his vantage point becomes clear, but then, for some unknown reason, he drops out of sight without warning in the second part of the novel. And an omniscient point of view takes over to introduce us, chapter by chapter, to characters who are either completely new, such as the prime minister in Chapter 7, or to others, who were on the periphery in the first six chapters. All of them, to be fair, are somehow connected to Bango and Alford, but with so many different portraits, panoramic scenes, flashbacks and social issues, the plot tends to slow down to a crawl, and our empathy for the plight of the main characters tends to dissolve.
Even so, by any measure, this is an impressive novel. It's no wonder that it won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize Competition in the Caribbean/Canada category. All in all, it is an enlightening and complex exploration of history, culture, politics, and education—on personal and social levels.
Well, the end surprised me a lot - or the lack of it.
(read more here: http://www.thecaribbeanwriter.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=895&catid=16:volume13&Itemid=2§ion=index)
Earl Lovelace (born 13 July 1935) is an award-winning Trinidadian novelist, journalist, playwright, and short story writer. He is particularly recognised for his descriptive, dramatic fiction about Caribbean culture: "Using Trinidadian dialect patterns and standard English, he probes the paradoxes often inherent in social change as well as the clash between rural and urban cultures".
Born in Toco, Trinidad and Tobago, Earl Lovelace was sent to live with his grandparents in Tobago at a very young age, but rejoined his family in Toco when he was 11 years old. He began writing while stationed in the village of Valencia as a forest ranger. In 1962 his first novel, While Gods Are Falling, won the Trinidad and Tobago Independence literary competition sponsored by British Petroleum (BP). He is a columnist for the Trinidad Express, and has contributed to a number of periodicals, including Voices, South, and Wasafiri. Based in Trinidad, while teaching and touring various countries, he was appointed to the Board of Governors of the University of Trinidad and Tobago in 2005, the year his 70th birthday was honoured with a conference and celebrations at the University of the West Indies.
He won in 1997, Best Book, Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book), 1997, for Salt.
Counts for Trinidad and Tobago.
However thanks for sharing.
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I partly agree with olagorie, who has written a very complex and complete entry about the book, however, I feel that in the second part each chapter is told by someone else ( and not an omniscient narrator) sometimes intermingled with the first person narrator of the first part. I also think that the author's intention was less telling the story of a certain character than telling us something about the island and its population as well as its history.
I understand holle77, who would have liked to read the book in German, as some passages are hard to understand for a non-native speaker with all the time shifts and sometimes the lack of past tense forms of the verbs used. On the other hand, it is quite interesting to read the locally used English. In addition, the author uses some very interesting stylistic devices, which might have got lost in a translation.
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