Raphael earns his living as a butcher in a hillside village in rural Trinidad. He is also a would-be author, but there have been so many changes to the novel he has been writing for forty-one years that many of the characters have lost patience and gone off to do their own thing. But somehow, miraculously, the novel, as Raphael has planned it in one hundred chapters of a thousand words, seems to write itself… Time in this richly ambitious and multi-levelled novel is both circular and simultaneous, but moving, as Raphael ages, towards a sense of dissolution both of persons and of the culture of the village. But if there is a tragic realism about the passage of time, there is also a constant aliveness in the novels love affair with the language of Creole Trinidad with its poetic inventiveness and wit, with the improvisatory sounds of jazz and the undimmed urge of the villagers to create meaning in their lives. Above all, there is Raphael’s belief that in the making of his fiction, however messy and disobedient its materials, art can both challenge the destructive passage of time and make us see reality afresh.
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