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New T&T novel set in WWII launched
Behind the Narrow Street, David Gomez’s second novel, was launched on March 5, at Nalis in Port-of-Spain. The launch was hosted by the publisher, Bamboo Talk Press, an independent press based in Trinidad and headed by Paula Obé.
In her opening remarks to the audience, Obé highlighted the timeframe in which the story is set. It is rare, she noted, that fictional accounts of T&T are rendered during the Second World War, making Gomez’s novel a necessary addition to our local literature.
Following a reading from the novel’s first chapter, the author explained that his original impetus to begin work on the manuscript was inspired by Belmont.
“A little over 27 years ago, I was introduced to the Belmont area,” he said, citing his work on a BWIA-commissioned commercial centred on the late visual artist, Boscoe Holder. He credited Holder’s home and studio, as well as Belmont’s winding streets, as critical components of the inspiration that led to the novel’s beginning.
Gomez added that his own journey through the story changed course many times, and ultimately he surrendered himself to the motivations of his characters.
A historical fiction novel involving subplots of romance and suspense, Behind the Narrow Street is set in three discrete time periods: 1834, 1944 and 1994. Throughout all of them, Gomez described, he wished to make the inevitability of fate and personal destiny apparent. Focusing on the thwarted romance of an American airman, Robert, and a young Trinidadian prostitute, Anna, the novel explores class and cultural relationships between foreigners and locals during the island’s “rum and Coca-Cola” era.
The novel’s blurb writer, Patrice Charles, expressed this authorial concern in her description of the work, saying that it “reveals a simple truth: the present cannot be fulfilled until the past has been healed.”
Gomez, former head and creative director at McCann Erickson Caribbean, thanked his publisher Obe for having the vision and commitment to back an alternative representation of T&T history, one not commonly being told in popular contemporary fiction.
Obé’s press, Bamboo Talk, has also published She Sex, a prose and poetry anthology of Caribbean women’s sensual experiences.
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