(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Based loosely on V. S. Naipaul’s nonfictional essay “Michael X and the Black Power Killings in Trinidad,” the action of Guerrillas recasts the story of postcolonialism in terms of the relationships between four people on a disturbed West Indian island. The novel opens with a sentence whose tone, eerily out of place, recalls that of other nineteenth century English stories whose ideology creates an ironic subtext: “After lunch Jane and Roche left their house on the Ridge to drive to Thrushcross Grange.” Peter Roche is a man who has gained respect, employment on the island, and press coverage for his first book as a result of his reputation “as someone who had suffered in South Africa.” He works for an American bauxite company (once associated with the slave trade) from which he gets secondhand machinery to support his association with Jimmy Ahmed, a Black-Chinese radical leader. It is to Jimmy’s commune, Thrushcross Grange, that he drives Jane at the start of the novel. Jane is a white female version of what Naipaul elsewhere called a “mimic man,” a person who has mindlessly and inattentively learned to mimic what she hears in print and words. Living vicariously through others, she follows Roche to the island only to be progressively disappointed by his lack of power and authority. She starts, thoughtlessly, a sexual affair with Jimmy that ends only with her brutal rape and murder at the end of the book.

The action of the novel...

(The entire section is 558 words.)