En­tic­ing Short Sto­ries by Gyan­c­hand Ray­man

- An an­thol­ogy of Caribbean short sto­ries

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BOOK REVIEW - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Gyan­c­hand Ray­man was born in Guyana, has lived in many Caribbean is­lands and cur­rently re­sides in Saint Lu­cia. Ac­cord­ing to the short bi­o­graph­i­cal write-up at the end of the book, Ray­man has worked with young peo­ple over time through dif­fer­ent av­enues. He is also sea­soned in var­i­ous forms of lit­er­a­ture and the­atrics. This col­lec­tion is just one of his many works. The short sto­ries, all set in the Caribbean and mostly in Saint Lu­cia, are re­counts of Ray­man’s ex­pe­ri­ences.

The cover art by young artist Laura Bruce, with its vi­brant colours and ex­pres­sion, cer­tainly ini­ti­ates the en­tice­ment. With some twenty short sto­ries, com­pletely un­re­lated, Ray­man man­ages to cre­ate a juicy spec­trum of en­ter­tain­ment. Ev­ery story pro­vides a dif­fer­ent set­ting, and the char­ac­ters come from vary­ing cul­tures, back­grounds and time pe­ri­ods.

There is a lit­tle some­thing for every­body from the Caribbean to re­late to: from us­ing your com­pany’s prop­erty for your own ben­e­fit to get­ting lost in the for­est and eat­ing so many fruits that you get sick; from the guilt of delv­ing way too far into as­sump­tions, to the ease of spread­ing gossip in small com­mu­ni­ties; through to sleep­ing with a best friend’s wife. There are also vivid de­scrip­tions of tra­di­tional cel­e­bra­tions like J’ou­vert, and indige­nous del­i­ca­cies like black pud­ding.

All the sto­ries have un­der­ly­ing morals and end pleas­antly with re­lief, res­cue, re­demp­tion or a good dose of karma. I re­ally en­joyed the one en­ti­tled ‘Gifts for Christ­mas’ be­cause Ray­man’s vi­gnette of an is­land Christ­mas cre­ates a per­fect, fes­tive am­bi­ence of my favourite time of year. The story is also very re­fresh­ing, with the main char­ac­ter ask­ing God why he has been cursed with in­fir­mity; he asks God for a sense of the life of a nor­mal man and is blessed with an early Christ­mas gift, which is a rich and orig­i­nal idea from Ray­man.

Al­though the cover sug­gests that read­ers should be aged six­teen and over, I con­sider that younger chil­dren may be able to read and com­pre­hend it. How­ever, par­ents should be aware that there are some adult sit­u­a­tions de­scribed and a few swear words but they are coded by the au­thor.

At the end of the col­lec­tion Ray­man re­quests feed­back from the reader and seeks sug­ges­tions for im­prove­ment in his fu­ture work. I hope that this re­view will pro­vide en­cour­age­ment to Gyan­c­hand Ray­man and at­tract new read­ers for him. This an­thol­ogy is cer­tainly a must-have for any Caribbean lit­er­a­ture col­lec­tion.

‘En­tic­ing Short Sto­ries’ by Gyan­c­hand Ray­man is avail­able from The bookYard, Star Publishing Com­pound, Mas­sade, Gros Islet.

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