All Decent Animals
By Oonya Kempadoo
(Farrar Straus Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374299712, 260pp.)
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
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Oonya Kempadoo's moving third novel, "All Decent Animals," looks at the personal and aesthetic choices of a multifaceted cast of characters on the Caribbean island of Trinidad--a country still developing economically but rich culturally, aiming at "world-class" status amid its poor island cousins. It is a novel about relationships, examined through the distinct rhythms of the city of Port of Spain.
Loyalties, love, conflicting cultures, and creativity come into play as Ata, a young woman working in carnival design but curious about writing, and her European boyfriend, Pierre, negotiate the care of their friend Fraser, a closeted gay man dying from AIDS. The contradictory Trinidadian setting becomes a parallel character to Fraser's Cambridge-derived artistic sensibility and an antagonist to Ata's creative journey.
"All Decent Animals "is a forthright inquiry into the complexity of character, social issues, and island society, with all the island's humor, mysticism, and tragedy.
Tell Me More's summer reading series highlights authors from the Caribbean. Host Michel Martin talks to Oonya Kempadoo, whose novel All Decent Animals, gives readers look into life in Trinidad that is both lovely and tough. More at NPR.org
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