by Celeste Mohammed
Coconut trees. Carnival. Rum and coke. To many outsiders, these and other sunny images are all they know about life in the Caribbean. However, if you want to learn how the locals truly live and experience the dark and often harrowing truths that lurk behind the idyllic imagery of Caribbean culture, then come visit the town of Pleasantview. Come during election season, and see how one candidate sets out to slaughter endangered turtles - just for fun. Or come on the day the other candidate beats his "outside-woman," so badly she ends up losing their baby. Then come on the night of the political rally, where this grieving woman exacts a very public revenge. Stay a while, and see how this single event has a trajectory far beyond the lives of the immediate actors, with often tragic and heartbreaking consequences. Written in a remarkable combination of Standard English and Trinidad Creole, Plesantview showcases the entrenched political, racial, and class dichotomies of life in Trinidad: the generosity (yet cruelty) of the average Trini; the sense of optimism (and yet, despair) which permeates everyday interaction; and the musicality of Caribbean creole (kriol) expression that masks an ingrained and frequently violent patriarchy. Merging the vibrancy and darkness of recent Caribbean writers such as Ingrid Persaud and Claire Adam with the linguistic experimentation of Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings. Pleasantview is a landmark work in international fiction.