The crowded, ramshackle community of the Settlement in Trinidad is at the mercy of a tyrant. Egbert Ramsaran, the proud owner of the Ramsaran Transport Company, who has become the richest man in town through sheer strength of will, is a capricious, eccentric despot who loves nobody and whom nobody can afford to ignore. There is his son Wilbert, bullied into passivity and failure; Vishnu the downtrodden grocer without grace or hope; the beautiful, unpredictable Sushila, who tries to wield her seductive powers over Ramsaran; and her daughter, Sita, intelligent enough to know that escape is possible. Their intricately woven lives are perfectly captured in all their pathos, comedy and humanity.
About the author
Shiva Naipaul was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 1945, the younger brother of the novelist V. S. Naipaul. Having won a scholarship to study Chinese at University College, Oxford, he emigrated to England, where he met and later married Jenny Stuart. He wrote two novels - Fireflies (1970) and The Chip-Chip Gatherers (1973) - before turning to non-fiction. His book North of South, an account of his travels in Africa, is published in Penguin Modern Classics. Later works include the novel A Hot Country, as well as a collection of fiction and non-fiction, Beyond the Dragon's Mouth. Naipaul died from a heart attack in August 1985, aged forty.
Amit Chaudhuri was born in Calcutta in 1962, and grew up in Bombay. He read English at University College, London and completed his doctorate on D.H. Lawrence at Balliol College, Oxford. He has written five novels: A Strange and Sublime Address; Afternoon Raag; Freedom Song; A New World; and The Immortals, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book. He is now Professor in Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia and was made Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009.