As Simona Taylor

Night Heat

A Thirst for Rain
by Roslyn Carrington
(Kensington, $22.00, PG-13) ISBN 1-757566-446-1
Trinidadian Roslyn Carrington joins the ranks of contemporary Caribbean fiction writers with her first Kensington novel, A Thirst for Rain. Carrington also writes under the pseudonym Simona Taylor. TRR has reviewed Night Heat, her first Simona Taylor romance, published by Arabesque/BET Books.

A Thirst for Rain takes place in the foothills of author's native Trinidad. It is the story of Myra Cole who lives on the outskirts of town with Odile, her suddenly moody teenage daughter, and Sebastian, her senile father. Myra makes her living selling Caribbean delicacies: linseed, seamoss and peanut punches, barley soup, hot accra and float, corn soup, peppery black pudding and homemade fruit juices and candies.

Most of the action takes place between April and July. The island is experiencing extreme drought. Revitalizing rain is in short supply. Myra and the residents of the hillside neighborhood in which she lives are in need of replenishment of a different sort.

Myra is pregnant as a result of her three-year on-again, off-again relationship with Slim, trifling street vendor. Younger than Myra, Slim "was not a man for idle conversation and other such post-coital niceties." She agonizes about telling him of her pregnancy...the next time he happens by. In a crowded house full of people, Myra is alone and lonely.

Myra's saving grace is Odile, her "serious, studious child" who attends an all-girls' school in Port of Spain. Odile is scheduled is preparing to take her Advance Level exams in a year, the first step toward university admission and a better life. But Odile, too, is pregnant and agonizes about how to tell her mother.

Jacob is a 48-year-old former champion stickfighter. His glory days behind him, he lives in an ethereal room with yellowing pages of a Bible was wallpaper. He makes his living as a leather smith in the communal yard he shares with the Coles and several other families. He has an excellent vantage point to watch the lives of his neighbors. And, although he is drawn to Myra and her family, he is content to watch from afar.

A Thirst for Rain head and shoulders above Night Heat, her Arabesque romance. The book is organized by month -- from April to July. The tales of the characters are set in chapters that tell their own stories and episodes of their interaction with the other characters. The book is lyrical and her use of language is economical, yet powerful. If the book has a weakness, it is the author's hesitancy to use the rich patois of her characters.

Caribbean writers of the post-colonial era have come of age and are writing stories that are different from the first and early-second generation authors. Their work is altogether different in style and orientation than the works of Claude McKay, Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, Derek Walcott and Maryse Conde we have become accustomed to.

With A Thirst for Rain, Rosalyn Carrington is carving out her own niche. A Thirst for Rain has earned her a spot on my Emerging Authors List.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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