THE BIGGER LIGHT by Austin Clarke


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Here is the final volume of Clarke's trilogy about West Indian immigrants from the island of Barbados living in Toronto. It focuses on Boysie Cumberbatch and his wife Dots whose marriage has been eroded by time, by their preoccupation with money and by Boysie's certain success in a cleaning business. They work -- Dots as a nurse's aide, Boysie cleaning offices -- save money and dream of leaving their ghetto apartment for a house in the suburbs. But they have lost touch with each other and with their cultural origins. Boysie throws out his calypso records, dresses in conservative suits and takes up writing letters to the editor. He spends the day looking out his window, playing his phonograph, reviewing his life, mourning the death of his friend Henry, wondering about Dots -- what she thinks, whom she talks to, etc., etc. Community affairs don't interest him, Black Power is just an abhorrent phrase, he longs for something else -- The Bigger Light, and in the end he just takes off, alone, across the border to the U.S. in his big black Buick. All of this is convincing and very well done including Clarke's rendering of the West Indian idiom. But the interior range of his characters and the scope of their lives is so limited that we can only respond in a limited way. It is in fact their very authenticity that is their major drawback.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1975
Publisher: Little, Brown