A heartbreaking story of fatherhood, family, sacrifice and violence, told with an overpowering and understated simplicity.
- Book: Golden Child
- Location: Trinidad and Tobago
- Author: Claire Adam
I’m not sure ‘Golden Child‘ will be welcomed by the Trinidad Tourist Board as warmly as by readers and critics, but I guess that literary fiction and tourism don’t always have to be cosy bedfellows.
Claire Adam’s disturbingly good debut novel is a heartbreaking story of fatherhood, family, sacrifice and violence, told with an overpowering and understated simplicity.
Peter and Paul are teenage twins, as different as the Trinidad bush where they live is to the island’s capital, Port of Spain. Peter has a natural genius that could propel him to academic stardom, Paul is perceived as being ‘retarded’ after being deprived of oxygen at birth.
Their mother Joy does all she can do keep the boys together through school, and proud working-class father Clyde Deyalsingh is fiercely protective of his family, but mostly determined to ensure Peter reaches his potential.
Clyde is searching for Paul, who has gone missing. But the author deftly interlays how the twins arrived in the world, how Uncle Vishnu helps them out financially, and paints a vivid picture of the wider family dynamics and what a dangerous environment the Deyalsinghs live in.
The prose is deceptively simple, with Trinidadian patois adding authenticity, but there is a constant underlying complexity and menace that grabs the reader by the throat from the first page.
‘You see me?’ Clyde says. ‘All my years in Trinidad, I tried to stay out of this kind of trouble. I was just trying to live my life. Just to live a decent life. That’s all. But you see this country? It’s impossible to live a decent life in this country.’
Clyde will do anything to ensure Golden Child Peter escapes the island to fulfil his potential, but at what collateral damage to Paul?
If Claire Adam’s first novel is this accomplished, I can’t wait to see where her golden writing takes her, and us, next.