Grove Press, Black Cat, 9780802170057, 304pp.
Publication Date: January 26, 2005
Robert Antoni has established himself as one of the most innovative voices to emerge from the Caribbean and the Americas. His ambitious third novel, Carnival, takes us on an expedition that stretches from contemporary New York City to the glitter of Trinidadian Carnival, and deep into the island's mountainous interior. Narrator William Fletcher is an aspiring novelist who has come to New York to escape his affluent West Indian roots. A chance meeting in a Greenwich Village bar reunites him with two of his childhood companions: Laurence and the vivacious and stunning Rachel, William's first love. Together, the three make a liquor-soaked pledge to return "home" to Trinidad for Carnival. The festival starts with passion and pleasure, but the Carnival ecstasy slides into a fog of ganja, alcohol, and the endless calypso beat. As William, Rachel, and Laurence journey to a remote area of the rainforest to "cool down" after the festival, the three hope for a secret paradise, hidden "behind God's back," to begin anew. But even here the demons of history, prejudice, and hatred violently intrude, as the novel's startling conclusion forces them to face both the power-and impotence-of human resilience and human love.