Repeating Islands

A fictionalised account of a Trinidadian artist’s life impresses Bernardine Evaristo in this review for London’s Guardian.

Lawrence Scott was born on a sugar plantation in Trinidad, and was a Benedictine monk in England before becoming a teacher and an extremely gifted writer. Moral dilemmas underpin much of his accomplished fiction. Aelred’s Sin(2002) explores homoerotic love and Catholic attitudes to sexuality within the walls of a monastery. In Night Calypso(2004) he immersed the reader in the morally unsettling world of illicit relationships in a Trinidadian leper colony. With his third novel, Light Falling on Bamboo, he turns his attention to Trinidad’s finest 19th-century painter, Michel Jean Cazabon (1813-1888). As little is known about Cazabon’s life, Scott has considerable freedom to flesh him out and explore the moral implications of his art and relationships.

Cazabon was mixed race and spent much of his childhood and early…

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