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Ismith Khan Biography

(1925– ), The Crucifixion, The Jumbie Bird, The Obeah Man, A Day in the Country

trinidad ain colonial hopkins

Trinidadian novelist of Pathan ancestry, born in Port of Spain, educated at Queen's Royal College, Trinidad, Michigan State University, the New School for Social Research in New York City, and Johns Hopkins University. His novella The Crucifixion (1988) originated as a thesis submission of Johns Hopkins. Khan's high reputation as a writer rests chiefly on his two novels, The Jumbie Bird (1961) and The Obeah Man (1964). Both are set in colonial Trinidad, and focus on the experience of East Indians, most of whom first came to the island as indentured labourers. In The Jumbie Bird three successive generations of East Indians come to terms with the harshness of life in a colonial environment. Its keynote is expressed by the main character, Rahim; of the second generation, and born in Trinidad, he nevertheless cries out in anguish: ‘We ain't belong to Hindustan, we ain't belong to England, we ain't belong to Trinidad.’ The Obeah Man focuses on Zampi, a diviner, spiritual guide, and herbal physician through whom are embodied the human possibilities denied to most of the other characters. This story of blighted lives is enriched by the novelist's unerring ear for street language. A Day in the Country (1994) is a collection of short stories.

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