The first novel from a major new talent in Anglo-Caribbean writing set in and around the cane fields of Grenada.
Pynter Bender is a child of the cane fields of Grenada, the second smallest independent state in the world.
This is Jacob Ross's extraordinary debut novel of a boy born blind but whose eyes are healed, allowing him to see great beauty.
The story charts the painful awakening of a rural population, essentially organised around serfdom, into a raw and uncertain future that can only be achieved through fighting - a civil war that Pynter is drawn in to.
Pynter's father leaves him to be brought up by the Bender women, a close-knit group of aunts and cousins, and Pynter's early life is shaped by these women.
He begins to understand a world beyond them when his uncle, Birdie the Beloved, the best baker on the island, occasionally returns to the family on his brief periods out of jail.
When Pynter comes to love a woman, and later flees his family to hide in the canes from the marauding soldiers, he can no longer ignore the violent world beyond the yard where he lives. 'Pynter Bender' is about the conflict between the world of men and women, men who walk away from their families and from the cane fields and their women who forbear.
It brilliantly describes the birth of a modern West Indian island and the shaping of its people as they struggle to shuck off the systems that have essentially kept them in slavery for centuries.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 05/03/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780007222988
- EPUB from £6.99
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Review by DeltaQueen50
Pynter Bender by Jacob Ross is a coming-of-age story set in the cane fields of Grenada. Although born blind, his eyes are healed by a village mystic when he is ten and he becomes acutely aware of the beauty around him. He is raised mostly by women as the one constant in his life is that the men leave. With a life of back-breaking work in the cane fields for 94 cents a day, it isn’t surprising that most men slip away looking for something different. The women that form Pynter’s family are a close knit group of aunts and cousins, but it is when his uncle Birdie returns home after one of his spells in prison that Pynter begins to understand that there is a world beyond these women and the cane fields. Pynter lives in turbulent times and when he finds himself fleeing marauding soldiers and hiding in the canes it brings him to the realization that he can no longer ignore the violence that is happening on his beloved island and he may have to become another man who leaves.Parallel to Pynter’s story this is also the story of Grenada. Originally a French colony, it was captured by the British in 1763 and held as a British Colony until 1974. Pynter Bender is set during the 1960’s, pre-independence. This was a time of unrest and uncertainty as islanders were struggling within the confines of virtual serfdom. This was a time, when in order to control the population, curfews were set and people who broke the curfew were shot. Rather than a straight forward novel, this story is told in a series of stories and personally I found it rather difficult to follow. It took me half the book to work out the relationships between the many characters. Another thing I found confusing was that some characters who seemed of importance would just disappear off the pages while new characters were constantly being introduced. The author does tell his story beautifully but unfortunately I found it felt awkward and disjointed.