Permission to Speak: Anton Nimblett

Anton NimblettI'll start with one word, "permission". As a good West Indian boy, I learned early -- and perhaps too well -- to ask for permission. Before interrupting a "big-people" conversation, before having a piece of coconut fudge. Permission to ask for permission, sometimes!

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Anton Nimblett’s stories are about characters driven by desire - for dignity and justice for a dead son, for privacy from a neighbour who collects lives, for sexual fulfilment as a gay man, for an old man’s last assertion of love for a dying wife, for a man on the edge trying to block out the destructive voices of past pains. What is so impressive about the stories, beyond Anton Nimblett’s sharp ear for a wide range of distinctive voices, and the ability to create vividly sensual pictures of place, and particularly of erotic encounters, is their facility in inhabiting contrary tendencies without strain.

There is also an expert cinematographer’s sense of when to cut and when to join, and several stories build to powerful dramatic tension through arresting montage. Within the collection there is both fluidity and sharp definition. Characters migrate between stories (just as they migrate between Trinidad and New York), being sometimes at the fringes, sometimes at the centre - Trinidadian lives seen both in motion and at rest. Writing with equal empathy about the lives of gay men, heterosexuals, young and old, country folk and urbanites, Anton Nimblett is a singularly attractive new voice in Caribbean writing.

Anton Nimblett is a Trinidadian living and writing in Brooklyn.

Photo Credit: Signifyin' Guyana


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