The novels of Oonya Kempadoo rely on both distance and intimacy, a visceral connection and a sense of detachment in their description of character and environment. Along with that, she remains well attuned to the different cadences and styles of rural and urban life. With her latest fictional effort, All Decent Animals, her vision shifts to a collection of individuals connected by family, love, friendship, and reveals them with the same fluidity of perspectives. The adeptness she displays in this new novel in evoking internal lives, relationships and the often complex exteriors of Port-of-Spain’s urban landscape may lie in her own multi-faceted background.
Born in England to Guyanese parents, Kempadoo then grew up in Guyana before returning to live in Europe, where she studied art in Amsterdam, and later lived in various Caribbean islands including Trinidad, Tobago, St. Lucia, and Grenada. Nowadays she is a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at various American colleges across the U.S. Her earliest attempts at fiction writing began as a girl in Guyana, in a household where literature had a high value – her own father was a novelist. Her first novel, Buxton Spice, was published in 1998 to critical acclaim for its portrait of the interior and exterior worlds of a young girl coming of age in a small Guyana village in the Seventies. Her next novel, Tide Running, was also critically applauded – winning the Casa de las Americas Literary Prize for best English or Creole Novel – for its depiction of two young men in Tobago, encountering an outside presence.
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