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Guerrillas

Sunday Times Magazine, The Return of Eva Perón and the Killings in Trinidad

roche ahmed sexual political

a novel by V. S. Naipaul, published in 1976, based on a murder case involving Michael X which the author reported for the Sunday Times Magazine in May1974 (his exploration of the true story is to be found in The Return of Eva Perón and the Killings in Trinidad, 1980). The novel is set in an unnamed recently independent Caribbean island that is being sustained by foreign interests, and the ‘guerrillas’ of the title are would-be revolutionary members of an agricultural commune led by the charismatic but dubious Jimmy Ahmed, whose racial and sexual ambiguities distort his political ideals. Another principal character is Peter Roche, an Englishman who acts as public relations officer for the local company that financially supports the commune in order to keep it under control. Roche's English girlfriend Jane accompanies him to the island, and her fascinated interaction with Ahmed builds towards a compelling picture of sexual and political violence and frustration in a disordered and despairing society. The Black Power revolution that Ahmed has been preparing for does not materialize, for when the opportunity comes no one rallies to his call. His grandiloquent fantasies culminate in his brutal sexual assault on Jane, after which he orders his homosexual partner to hack her to death. Roche finds himself in a position where he conspires to conceal her death (since she has managed to enter the country without a visa there is no official record of her presence there in the first place). Roche himself, as company scapegoat, must leave; and now that Ahmed's impotence is established, the government can dispense with him. There are no winners by the end of a novel that is a brilliant and brooding observation of psychological and political defeat.

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