The Ten Days Executive by Rhoda Bharath

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Welcome to the 2015 Paper Based Advent Book Blog! Day Five’s pick is one of the four titles launched at this year’s NGC Bocas Lit Fest: a powerful eye-opener in short fiction for those (Trini and otherwise) who shy away from headline news and the true-life horror stories that grow close to home: Rhoda Bharath’s The Ten Days Executive.

Many a man, woman and politician has been felled by pride, puncheon and party-card mentality: at the intersection of these three bacchanals, these short stories shine with an unapologetic savvy knowingness of T & T space. Sallying forth with a lioness’ share of narrative gumption, Bharath’s fiction debut focuses on sharks in suits, smart people made stupid by lyrics, stalwart youthmen facing down the barrel of society’s prejudice, amid many other tales worth telling. In a land where most are for sale, these stories ask their readers to face up to the prices we exact in the name of love and liberty.

What resonates most about Bharath’s fiction is that it’s never cut too distantly from the fabric of reality: the fodder for these (a)morality tales could have been plausibly culled from Express and Guardian headlines, developed to detail those whose lives act as collateral damage for high-stakes fancies and under-the-table dealings. Rather than each story being  reduced as a “political” examination, The Ten Days Executive shows how politics infuses the ground-structure of personal lives: that politics means more than merely PNM vs UNC: it’s in skintone hue; Convent accent or lack thereof; Carnival wildness; police brutality, and all the ways citizens survive in our rainbow islands. These colours, proudly touted in Benetton ads as signs of unity, often carry darker portents, as the author shows in “Breast Pocket”, detailing a dangerous relationship which is no rarity:

“Because he skin red, he used to tell me all kinda thing, like how my skin so black and I should paint my skin white so that at least when we have outage he could see where my black ass hiding. If that was really the case I woulda wish for power outage all the time, because then he woulda never see me.”

You might not be able to trust everything you read in the newspapers, but you can trust in the honest, relentless heart of Rhoda Bharath’s fiction — no short story collection is less likely to lead you astray.

We recommend it for: lovers of Earl Lovelace’s Is Just a Movie; those who prefer their satire sharp and well-moulded, with a contemporary cache of references; sociopolitical pundits, bloggers and media mavens.

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An Evening of Tea and Readings – Paper Based Turns 26!

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

PBReadingMarch23rd

Dear Friends of Paper Based,

As March drew to a close, we celebrated the shop’s twenty-six years of existence and dedication to Caribbean literature in what has fast become one of our favourite ways: by supporting the rich, diverse talents of our own writing community. Providing a platform, as best we can, through which both fledgling and established writers may share their work with fellow lovers of language, remains our committment to the Trinbagonian arts: one we look forward to hosting on a regular, recurring basis.

On March 23rd, we were lucky to have two readers of prose fiction, Rhoda Bharath and June Aming; and two of poetry, Abinta Clarke and Colin Robinson, treat the audience to selections of their work. These four writers share a special tenet: all are graduates of past Cropper Foundation Residential Workshop for Caribbean Writers Workshops. The attendees sat rapt through the orations, moved to both riotous laughter and quieter, introspective lulls of calm.

We were also delighted to host a creative non-fiction reading from the autobiography of the late diplomat and civil servant Cuthbert Joseph, entitled The Life I Recall: Other Pathways to Human Development. Sections of the work were read by Legena Henry and Anthony Grey, pictured below. Publications in this steadily burgeoning genre of life writing serve to add new, wide-ranging dimensions to the ways in which stories of human experience may be told.

LifeIRecall

Paper Based continues to be appreciative for the generous turnout at our Tea and Readings series events: and for those who couldn’t quite make it on March 23rd, fear not! After the vastly exciting extravaganza of the impending Bocas Lit Fest, you may depend upon future reading events in the calendar year. We thank the phenomenal writers of prose, fiction, and non-fiction alike who have graced the Paper Based podium, and look forward to discovering new, promising talent in the many Tea and Readings to come!

Cuthbert Joseph’s autobiography (L) alongside Moving Right Along, an anthology of Cropper Workshop writing that includes stories by Rhoda Bharath and June Aming.

Photographs by Shivanee Ramlochan.