CARGO by Jane Rawlinson


Email this review


After The Lion and the Lizard (set in Iran) and Cradle Song (set in Kenya), Rawlinson takes another biting look at the Third World--this time following the parallel, not-quite-intersecting fortunes of the Stillmans, two stereotypically awful American tourists cruising the Caribbean, and that of Ophelia, a beautiful young woman fleeing fictional Monday Island in hopes of realizing her greater ambitions in the US. In a novel that jumps back and forth in time, presenting short scenes and some arch commentary that fit together almost like a jigsaw puzzle, Rawlinson introduces fat, cheap, boorish Harry Stillman, caught up in cowboy fantasies, and his desperate (thinking about killing Harry to get rid of him) wife Betty--two losers traveling on the pointedly named Dream of America; Thomas, their black cabin steward who sees to their needs while suffering because his beloved Ophelia has left him; and Ophelia herself, who--after all her legitimate attempts at bettering her life have been cruelly thwarted--embarks in the hold of a cargo ship (which evokes memories of her grandmother telling family histories of slavery) to be smuggled into an American port as a prostitute. A detailed and loving portrait brings the doomed Ophelia to vibrant life, but the Stillmans, who never rise above clumsy caricature, sink this ship.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1989
ISBN: 233-98132-2
Publisher: Andre Deutsch/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online: