All Decent Animals by Oonya Kempadoo

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger


Dear Friends of Paper Based, we’re still reeling from the whirlwind literary event that was this year’s NGC Bocas Lit Fest! We were thrilled, as the festival’s bookselling coordinator, to be present on each of the programme’s four utterly packed days, selling a vast array of titles; reconnecting with some of our bookshop stalwarts, and making new friends too. Now, as we reflect on the merriment and creative inspiration that Bocas always provides, one week later, we continue to highlight some of our very favourite festival selections of poetry, non-fiction and prose.

Signalling a triumphant return to long-form fiction, All Decent Animals marks the Grenada-based author’s first full-length novel in over a decade. Carnival designer and aspiring writer Ata, and her foreigner boyfriend Pierre, are tending to their friend Fraser, who is dying from AIDS. Set in Trinidad, the plot also explores the island as a curious, energetic microcosm of the Third World colliding into the First. With Port of Spain functioning as a dynamic central backdrop to much of the novel’s action, Kempadoo’s latest is rife with explorations on love and community loss, as vivid as they are searingly immediate.

Fans of Buxton Spice and Tide Running will not be disappointed; this is fiction that moves with well-modulated grace (and no small matter of riveting force) from the page, painting a portrait of a society many Trinidadians will find instantly evocative of places they’ve been; scenes they have witnessed, people they know. A triumphant, reflective tour-de-force, All Decent Animals deserves to be read with as much intensity as is evident in its composition.


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