Charles V. Carnegie
Rahul Bhattacharya, The Sly Company of People Who Care (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011); 278 pages; ISBN 978-0-374-26585-4 (hardcover).
Rahul Bhattacharya has given us a sweet, magical lime of a first novel. Lush with the irony and warmth squeezed into its paradoxical title—The Sly Company of People Who Care—this travel narrative set in Guyana rewards at every turn. The narrator is a young man in his twenties who has “walked all the way from India” (86) and gotten caught up with the spirit of the place. As a journalist he once covered an international cricket tour in Guyana, and now he has returned for a year of exploration and self-discovery. This “slow ramblin’ stranger” (3) plunges into the everyday lives of his Guyanese hosts, illuminating all he experiences with keenly sympathetic ethnographic insight and rendering these adventures into lyrical description.
With deftness and empathy the narrator sketches the social and spatial-temporal coordinates of the Guyanese imagination: the often cruel local mythologies of race; the sensuous and varied texture of days and nights and seasons of heat and rain; the qualities of light; the intimacies of place. (more…)