Book review "Rain on a Tin Roof" by Gabriel Christian

Published: Monday, 13 February 2012 Written by Chrisia Webb

Born in Goodwill, Dominica in 1961, the author of the book ‘ Rain on a Tin roof’ was educated on the island of Dominica before going to college and law school in Washington, D.C. He is a General Counsel and a founding member of the Institute of Caribbean Stories. He was active as President of the Dominica Federation of Students during Dominica’s 1970’s drive for independence from Britain. In 1992, he co-authored ‘In Search of Eden,’ a contemporary history of Dominica, with Irving Andre. He is an author/ co-author of seven books on Caribbean History, Military History, and Literature. He is also the co-founder and Vice President of the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Do you enjoy reading books about Caribbean Short Stories? Well, ‘Rain on a Tin Roof’ by Gabriel J. Christian is a book that you should read. This is a book with many exciting stories that make the reading of the book more fun. This book is about a sparkling collection of Caribbean short stories which present sharp, vivid portraits of life on the Island of Dominica. Distance has sharpened the author’s love for his homeland and people. Seeking stories of colonial rule, family, romance, exile, rural life, gossip, superstition and political upheaval, this is a passionate work which immerses the reader in images which are robust, extremely funny and sometimes dead serious.
Some stories in this book are: ‘Carib Basket’, ‘Rain on a tin roof’, ‘Sure bet Cecilia’, ‘Rum in an Essence Bottle’, ‘Our cross to bear’, ‘When the corpse wore socks’, ‘It’s Six o’clock and Roseau Boy can’t see,’ ‘And the seat turned twice’, ‘Common Entrance’, ‘Julian’s Shop’, ‘Traveling to the Castle of Papi’, ‘Going to see Fire’, ‘When Goodfoot was in style’, ‘In a time of weed’, ‘Many more fishes in the Sea,’ ‘My friend the Sergeant major and the Coup D’état’, and ‘How is it man? How is it?’ but out of all these stories, one of my favourites was ‘And the seat turned twice’.
‘And the seat turned twice’ is about a boy and his siblings in 1969, going to the matinee (movies in the afternoon for children) at the Arawak House of Culture for the first time and are anxious, excited and can’t wait to reach there. The characters are: Sambo, Bowsie, Mama, Zap and S.O Christian, Mr. Millingford, Mr. Robin, Daddy, Zincock, Saca Boy, Axe-you-Ras, Elizabeth, Mr. Anselm and Harold, but the main characters were Sambo, Elizabeth, Zap, Mama, Saca Boy and Daddy. While at the movies, the three children Sambo, Elizabeth and Zap are delighted by the big screen in front of them. They were at the Arawak watching a movie with Mr. Clint as an actor and they were enjoying all of it when all of a sudden, the screen went blank and someone in the crowd blamed the production manager, Harold, and cursed him on his mother’s potato because he thought that Harold had turned off the screen; usually when it had movies with inappropriate viewings, he would turn off the film, but this time it wasn’t him. Someone shouted “Earthquake” and a man said that he felt the seat turn twice. This made the children so afraid that they hid under the seats and saw everyone running amok in the building. After a while, they went to the Fire Station where their father was working. They told him that there was an earthquake and the father said that they were too stupid that if there was an earthquake, he would be able to feel it. Then, while the father was laughing at what they had just said, a call came from the Arawak and soon the fire truck began to go in the direction of the Arawak. When they arrived, it did not have an earthquake, but a small tremor which had broken the building.
My Favorite part of this story was when the screen went blank, one of the people in the crowd shouted “ Higas!” and I found it to be very funny. I was confused because I didn’t know what that word actually meant, until I read the story when I finally understood that whenever there was a fight on the screen or in real life, Dominicans would start saying “Higas!” .I felt like I could imagine being in the story with the characters. The story was so interesting that I kept going on and on to each page expecting to see more, but the story was short. I would recommend this book because you can be able to learn more about how Dominica used to be years ago compared to how it is now and how different places and their locations have changed.
Some words that I never knew or had not heard before were words such as Ca Bon! (That’s Good) , Ca ka Faite Bouge (How are you doing man?), Chien Lawen (King’s Dogs) , Chip Chip (To dance behind a carnival band in a slow pace), Demijohn (Narrow neck glass bottle used to store rum), Fway (Fresh), Jook (to prick), Jouboum (Confusion), Kochi (crooked), Kawant (A street urchin or vagabond), Makakwi (Foolishness), Lapli (Rain), Tate (to touch up someone in a sexually suggestive manner), Zuuti (a local bush, which irritates the skin when it is touched), Toutouni (naked) and Maco (a man who gossips; is overly clumsy or effeminate; a homosexual.)
In light of the above, I would recommend that young people read this book that never had grandparents to know more about life in the sixties.

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