AFTERMATH of EMPIRE: The Novels of Roy Heath. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2017. ISBN: 978-976-640-636-3 (print). 256 pages.
“If proof were needed as to how far the literary imagination can take us into the minds and motivations of fictional subjects, then Heath’s creative output provides rich and rewarding scope. Glimpses into the flawed psyches of irrational, illogical characters who lack self-knowledge and who people Heath’s nine novels cause us to reflect on the words of Josef Conrad: ‘The only legitimate basis of creative work lies in the courageous recognition of all irreconcilable antagonisms that make our lives so enigmatic, so burdensome, so fascinating, so dangerous, so full of hope. This is the only fundamental truth of fiction.’” – From the preface.
Roy A.K. Heath (1926-2008) was born in British Guiana (now Guyana). He fled a stultifying colony in 1950 and headed to the United Kingdom where he became a teacher by profession, a lawyer by training and a writer by conscience. Heath authored nine novels (the first published in 1974, all uncompromisingly grounded in the landscape, and the sociopolitical and cultural reality of twentieth-century Guyana. This the first critical study of Heath’s entire body of work.
Ameena Gafoor’s comprehensive critical introduction to Heath’s novels will be essential reading in institutions where literatures in English are being studied and researched. Gafoor is founder and editor of The Arts Journal and compiler of The Evolution of Writing by East Indians in Guyana, 1838 – 2018 (forthcoming, Hansib).