The Wine of Astonishment

by Earl Lovelace

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Critical Context (Critical Guide to British Fiction)

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With two earlier novels and especially his third novel, The Dragon Can’t Dance (1979), Earl Lovelace earned his place among a growing number of Caribbean novelists and poets who are willing to probe the social as well as the political legacies of colonialism. What sets Lovelace and others, such as Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Garth St. Omer, and Harold Sonny Ladoo, apart from earlier generations of Caribbean writers is their willingness to examine neo-colonial, post-independence racial and economic conflicts among the population of a previously colonized island. While Lovelace is subtle in The Wine of Astonishment, his black characters hold unmistakable attitudes toward the Chinese and Indians of the island as well as toward the whites. Those tensions themselves explain why Morton can muster the support of constituents who, however much they dislike him, will not vote for a candidate of another ethnic minority. Given the international appeal of established West Indian writers such as V. S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Wilson Harris, Earl Lovelace’s work seems certain to continue the growth of a coherent tradition in the West Indian novel.

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Critical Context (Masterplots II: African American Literature)