‘It was an old enemy, this death. It comes as sleep. It passes as the sun. It dances as the sea. It is as fringeless as the sky … But he, he would never willingly give in to it. Never.’
The poverty-stricken Jamaican fisherman Zachariah is stubborn and, some would say, foolish. When he is lost at sea, his stubbornness makes him refuse to accept that he will not survive, even after being adrift for many weeks. When he is diagnosed with cancer, his foolishness makes him refuse to accept that the disease will kill him. The English doctor responsible for the district is first frustrated, then incensed: what makes a man with so little cling to life with such senseless obduracy?
In this first novel by outstanding Jamaican novelist Anthony C. Winkler, set in the tiny village of Charity Bay, Portland, faith is pitted against fate, irrationality against rationality – all amidst hilarious displays of eccentricity – as Zachariah determinedly battles the odds for survival.
“Anthony Winkler’s The Painted Canoe is an immensely engrossing, unpretentious novel that effortlessly weaves questions of class and race, fate and science, the modern versus the traditional and Africa versus the West into its narrative cloth, investing what could so easily be abstractions with liveliness and originality.” Michael Thelwell, Washington Post
“… An exquisitely written story, which is redolent of the colourful patois and chaotic flavour of rural Jamaican culture, and which, at heart, is an even richer exploration of the triumph of folk wisdom and simple faith over cold scientific criticism.” Bob Allen, The Sun