PRESS RELEASE – As I coursed through this fascinating collection by Gyanchand Rayman, I was constantly reminded of masters of the genre, like Anton Chekhov, Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, and endearing characters such as Oliver Twist and Pip, in Charles Dickens.
Enticing Short Stories is variously set in Guyana and other Caribbean locations. Employee of the Year, for instance, is set in Saint Lucia, as is Raffle Ticket and Gifts of Love. By contrast, the lush forests of Guyana provide the perfect backdrop for Green Glory, while other stories may have a location shift as the narrative unfolds, as with Bachelor Brandt. These various settings have the advantageous effect of rendering the collection completely Caribbean.
The author’s purpose in creating this work, I believe, is to highlight certain issues of social, cultural and even moral topicality. Employee of the Year focuses on the importance of dedication to duty, punctuality and reward; whereas Pantimonium is clothed in hilarity, mystery and depravity, it concludes with the humane act of forgiveness and celebration; Somebody Loves Me sets out on a note of vengeance—rape for rape, so to speak—but a totally unexpected and opposite outcome eventuates.
Notwithstanding, it is not to signal that the telling of these tales is any less interesting, as they are each and every single one of them endowed with all the ingredients that go into making a perfect story: a clear and decisive plot, mystery, a tension (suspense) that gradually heightens to a climax—or anti-climax, characters that fit the part, language that paints the right picture, etc. And in that regard, Rayman does an excellent job. His narrative is rich in imagery, drama and superb characterization.
Rayman’s writing style is polished, mature, fluent. His mastery of language is often highlighted by the choice of beautiful phrases and descriptive lines, such as when he writes in Green Glory, “…and before long we were regaled in the cloying sweetness of pineapples”, or “The sickly-sweet aroma of ripe and rotten pineapples was everywhere. We were giddy and knew not where to commence our plunder” (which sent my own mouth watering!). Elsewhere he writes, “This, ladies and gentlemen, is symptomatic of a Caribbean malady…” (Communication Warp)—highlighting a deeply rooted Caribbean love affair with time.
Miguel Barnet (BIM) states, “There are those who collect stamps, exotic birds or Etruscan coins. I have collected the lives of others” It would be simplistic to say that Gyanchand Rayman has collected short stories, when in reality what he has collected is memories, encounters, landscapes, clippings of Caribbean lifestyle, customs, traditions. He has brought all these together and woven them into something of a tapestry. He has brought the past into the present and captured strands of the present for the future.
Enticing Short Stories is published in Saint Lucia and is set for a formal launch on February 23, as part of Independence Celebrations, 2016.