Cuyama, a small country in South America, its spirit robbed by centuries of conquerors and colonizers, is poised on the brink of crisis. Shiva Naipaul's passionate and evocative novel focuses on two casualties of Cuyama's post-Independence malaise, Aubrey St Pierre, dedicated to redeeming the sins of his slave-owning ancestors, and his wife, Dina. While Aubrey sits in his highbrow bookshop composing protest letters to The Times in London and New York, Dina stands aloof and passive in the face of an impending tragedy that seems to her more personal than political. The fate of their marriage comes obliquely to reflect the fate of a nation, portrayed by Naipaul with intense sympathy, vision and eloquence.
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