The Undiscovered Country (Paperback)
Andre Bagoo is the real deal as an essayist in that he asks interesting questions (was there an alternative to the independence that Trinidad sought and gained in 1962?) and is open to seeing where his ideas take him—quite often to unexpected places. He displays an intense interest in the world around him—including literature, art, film, food, politics, even Snakes and Ladders—but is just as keen to share with the reader some sense of how his point of view has been constructed. He writes as a gay man who grew up in a country that still has colonial laws against gay sexuality, as a man whose ethnic heritage was both African and Indian in a country whose politics have been stymied by its ethnic divisions. And just what were the effects of repeat-watching a defective video of The Sound of Music, truncated at a crucial moment? There is an engaging personality present here, a sharp and enquiring mind, and ample evidence that he knows how to write shapely sentences and construct well-formed essays. Encyclopaedic knowledge is rarely the point of the essay, but few readers will leave this collection without feeling better informed and more curious about their worlds.
Andre Bagoo is a poet and writer, the author of four books of poems including BURN (Shearsman, 2012), Pitch Lake (Peepal Tree Press, 2017), and a book of essays, The Undiscovered Country (Peepal Tree Press, 2020). He was awarded The Charlotte & Isidor Paiewonsky Prize in 2017 and shortlisted for the Ernest Hemingway Foundation’s annual fiction prize in 2020. His work has appeared in journals such as Almost Island, Boston Review, Caribbean Review of Books, Draconian Switch, St Petersburg Review, and The Poetry Review.