Anton Nimblett’s SECTIONS OF AN ORANGE: Caribbean Writer Pens a Collection of Inspiring Tales

Anton Nimblett is yet to etch his name onto the annals of legendary Caribbean writers: VS Naipauls, Samuel Selvon, George Lamming, and others luminaries. But, “all in good time,” as Dr Glenville Ashby
 writes in this review for The Caribbean Book Review. Follow the ink below for the original report.

And time is on Nimblett’s side – no doubt. Still young, he has already published some exhaling work, especially his contribution to the ground breaking anthology, “Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles.”

Nimblett continues his signature style in Sections of an Orange, an artsy rendition of life’s vicissitudes. It is crafty and deliberate; cagey, but liberating. He is a classicist, really, a traditionalist who bows to the loftiness of creative writing, and quite comfortable in his element.

In “Time and Tide,” his artistry is undeniable. He writes: “…I hear different sections of the ocean orchestra: the booming bass of the big waves yards away from the shore, the swooshing shack-shack beat as the water laps against the sand, sending it  gently shifting the filtering high notes as foamy bubbles burst and rejoin the salty night air.”

In “Visiting Soldiers,” the author’s conscience – his sensitivity – surfaces. It’s a wrenching tale of a mother who has suffered the unthinkable – a son killed in action thousands of miles away. Here, Nimblett avoids politicising the tragedy. Sure, it takes place in Iraq, but that anathema of a word for so many, is never mentioned,although readers are aware that Eva’s son Roderick, was cut down in the Cradle of Civilization. The author zeroes in on the turmoil of a grieving mother. Nothing more.  Her pain piercing every page. The urn, the resting place of her son’s ashes, is her constant companion.

Nimblett writes: “Inside the bag was the beautiful wood box, its edges rounded, its surface lacquered to a near reflective gloss. At night, alone in her bedroom, Eva would run her hands along the top, curl her fingers under the edges to rub the corners. Sometimes, too, she would do this in the seclusion that crowded rush-hour trains provided.”

This is a mother who remains taciturn, introspective, maybe, unpredictable, as the closing scene proves. “This is my only son, Roderick. Private First Class, Roderick Leonard. Meet my son,” she screams at Army recruiters, ever ready to inveigle a prospective soldiers – no less a relative in this case.

“Visiting Soldiers” resounds with its sheer existential depth, threatening to overwhelm Nimblett’s other offerings. And may be it does. Yet, the author’s magic is hardly debatable, as he sustain intrigue with “On the side,” which explores a troubled gay relationship, replete with every unhinged sexual fantasy imaginable. “How Far, How Long,” and “Sections of an Orange,” continue in the same vein. While these narratives may prove a challenging read for social conservatives, their theatrical appeal is undeniable, and the author’s daring pays dividends. Homophobia is subtly challenged, and any perceived emotive difference between gay and heterosexual love affairs is proved non-existent.

In “Just Now,” the author unearths nostalgic sentiments, especially among the Diaspora. The islands – bucolic and authentic, never looked so inviting. It is a catchy tale where modernity and traditionalism collide – a city boy encounters his country sweetheart. Their exchange is spontaneously novel and refreshing.

And in “Marjorie’s Meal,” the perennial question,” What is love?” finds a ready response with  a couple’s display of devotion in their twilight years.

Admittedly, every story may not lock step in explosiveness. Nevertheless, Sections of an Orange remains a compelling West Indian narrative – gliding from the cold tapestry of New York, to the soulful richness of the islands, with poise and aplomb. And this maybe just sufficient to seal Nimblett’s place among the Caribbean’s most promising writers.

Sections of an orange by Anton Nimblett
Pee Pal Tree Press Ltd., England 2009

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