The Chip-Chip Gatherers (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)

The Chip-Chip Gatherers (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) It was at this time, when the tide was out, that the beds of chip chip were exposed and squadrons of women and children from the village would come down to the beach armed with buckets and basins to gather the harvest of shells The women wore petticoats but the smaller children would be naked Separate working parties fanned out along the beach Squatting on their haunches, they labored long and assiduously, shoveling and raking over the wet sand with their hands filling the buckets and basins with their pink and yellow shells which were the size and shape of a long fingernail Inside each was the sought after prize a miniscule kernel of insipid flesh A full bucket of shells would provide them with a mouthful But they were not deterred by the disproportion between their labours and their gains Rather, the very meagreness of their reward seemed to spur them on Quarrels were frequent, their chief cause being the intrusion of an alien group into the staked out territory of another Some of these border conflicts could flare into violence Tempers sparked easily in the scorching sun.The chip chip, formally known as Donax variabilis, is a tiny edible mollusk which populates the Eastern United States and the Caribbean The meat from these sea creatures is considered to be a delicacy in Trinidad, the country in which Shiva Naipaul s second novel is set The chip chip serves as excellent metaphor for the poor inhabitants of the island their lives are nasty, brutish and short , as they struggle against both the recurrent waves that wash them from their sea bed communities, and the birds and humans that thoughtlessly consume them en masse.The Chip Chip Gatherers, the winner of the 1973 Whitbread Prize, is set in the Settlement, a community of poor Indians that is so insignificant that it doesn t appear on any maps of Trinidad The dominant character is Ashok Egbert Ramsaran, a ruthless and eccentric tyrant whose successful trucking company and extortionary money lending business has made him the most powerful man in the community Egbert is a self made man who turned his back on his aimless parents and wayward brothers, and he refuses to lift a finger to help them or anyone else He has one son, Wilbert, who he grooms to take over the business after his death Despite his wealth, Egbert adamantly refuses to provide his son with a formal education, as he views doctors and lawyers as lying cheaters, and he regularly belittles and harangues Wilbert into submission.His estranged best friend from childhood, Vishnu Bholai, works as the community s local grocer, after failing in his dream to become a lawyer Vishnu s strikingly handsome and rather vain son Julian is a promising student who plans to gain a scholarship to England to pursue a career in medicine Vishnu seeks reconciliation with Egbert, and fervently desires for Wilbert and Julian to become close friends, but the boys, like their fathers, have little in common Egbert s long suffering and nearly invisible wife Rani dies of a heart attack, which initially provides her husband with relief and freedom However, he soon finds himself lonely, as he has no friends and has lost his only companion Rani s mother Basdai, realizing that her financial link to Ramsaran has been severed upon her daughter s death, cleverly creates a plan to keep her financial pipeline intact She cajoles her wayward niece Sushila, who is strikingly attractive and single, to offer her services as a housemaid to Egbert, and lure him into taking her on as his mistress Sushila has a daughter out of wedlock named Sita, a moody, bookish and determined girl who also strives to escape the influence of Basdai, her daughters and daughters in law, and her mother, who left her in the care of Basdai to seek favors in the larger cities of San Fernando and Port of Spain Basdai s plan is successful at first, but ultimately she derives no benefit from it, and later the relationship between Egbert and Sushila takes a tragic turn that has wide ramifications on the others.The main characters are linked by their ruthless desire to escape from the others in the community in order to achieve success, like a crab that seeks to crawl out of a barrel while the others pull him back in Love and happiness are viewed as foolish pursuits that only lead to failure They are desperate and fatalistic, and their extreme individualism blinds them toward any thoughts of working with each other to achieve common goals.The Chip Chip Gatherers is a deceptively simple novel, filled with humor and pathos, compelling characters , and evocative descriptions of the Settlement and its inhabitants Shiva Naipaul mines the same fertile soil as his farsuccessful older brother Vidya V.S did in his novels A House for Mr Biswas and The Mystic Masseur, but this novel stands on its own and is a unique and captivating view of a postcolonial culture that is nearly the equal of Vidya s early novels Sadly, Shiva died of a heart attack in 1985 at the age of 40 and did not achieve much recognition or success during his lifetime, but hopefully the recent reissuing of The Chip Chip Gatherers by Penguin Classics UK , along with his 1970 debut novel Fireflies, will permit a new generation of readers to experience and enjoy the work of this talented and largely forgotten writer. The Ramsaran Transport Company was the centre of the universe ,, 17 July 2015This review is from Modern Classics the Chip chip Gatherers Paperback Utterly enjoyable read, following a group of people living in Trinidad, their lives following the predictable, almost necessary cycle of burgeoning and disappointment, hubris and humiliation, that all humans are subject to in Shiva Naipaul s scheme of things Amit Chaudhuri.The work centres on the vain and irascible Egbert Ramsaran, who has raised himself from a prospective future in the cane fields to become the richest man in town We meet his colourless wife Rani, who spends her days off with her stamp collection, and their son Wilbert, intended to take over the business And illegitimate son, Singh, lurking in the background, a disconsolate characterThen there is Egbert s one time friend, now a family man if not a lawyer as he once hoped, father to studious and rather self satisfied Julian, planning to become a doctor.And lastly Sushila, a woman with a dubious past, infatuated to the point of obsession with adornment , and her quiet, self contained, fatherless daughter Sita.The interweaving of their lives, their plans, their hopes, their feelings, all prove to be as pointless as the gatherers of chip chip, a minuscule shellfish like them they were not deterred by the disproportion between their labours and their gains Rather, the very meagreness of their reward seemed to spur them on I have enjoyed both of Shiva Naipaul s novels this and Fireflies and can t recommend him enough. Gloom with a ViewWriters have different takes on the human race Duhh Some emphasize romance, others humor, variety or mystery Both Shiva Naipaul and hisfamous brother present the most negative side of people Perhaps they felt trapped in a colonial society which they wished to escape, dreaming of wider horizons Trinidad may or may not boast of the two authors, I don t know, but Trinidadians could scarcely be proud of the picture they paint of a narrow, quarrelsome, ignorant society full of flaws but few redeeming qualities THE CHIP CHIP GATHERERS is stylishly written, with an excellent development of four main characters and a number of minor ones Their personalities emerge clearly, but they appear brutal, selfish, scheming, closed or arrogant There is no one you would like to identify with The story takes place among the Indian South Asian community of Trinidad, centering around Egbert Ramsaran, the successful owner of a trucking business We also meet his son, Wilbert, and a sensual, independent woman, Sushila, who arrives after Egbert s self effacing first wife dies Sushila s daughter, Sita, is the final figure, though various relatives and the Bholai family play roles as well Naipaul s view of humanity is negative in the extreme the nastiness of nearly everyone, their endless scheming and their callously brutal treatment of those around them There is no hope, broken dreams litter the landscape OK, people are poor, but Naipaul emphasizes their spiritual poverty as well Love is forever absent and many backbiting, gossipy dialogues full of ignorance and jealousy set off Naipaul s especially dark picture of the society he grew up in He notes that most of us don t have a choice in the way we live We ve simply got to make do with what we have And if you re not satisfied, then that is your bad luck Chip chip gatherers collect tiny shells on the beaches of the island, expending great effort and time to accumulate very negligible amounts of food They quarrel and fight over the areas in which they can seek the shells, but for what gain This is certainly Naipaul s view of human nature Most bleak Such a view can provide no satisfying end to the novel Some characters die along the way, others disappear You yourself will probably find THE CHIP CHIP GATHERERS an engrossing read, but you will need an antidote afterwards. A decent alternativeWhile the less celebrated Naipaul brother doesn t have a massive list of accolades nd titles to his name, his writing is nonetheless pretty good My one complaint with his work is his insistence on telling and not showing While not a cardinal sin, it does irk me a bit at times.This book s depressive nature strikes very close to home for me, having grown up in a rural village in Trinidad as well The characters are recognizable, but the tendency of describing them like the way Shiva does takes way from their human ness A good read if you already like West Indian fiction If not, and this is your first book, pick something else up first, preferably Selvon or VS. Okay, so I am a bit obsessed with Trinidad, but I really liked this novel by V.S s younger brother who isn t as well known mainly because he died tragically young For all the same reasons as I like Naipaul unforgiving realism, amazing dialogue, great social commentary. Riveting read In the enigma called life, ambitions can make you achieve anything Alas life is never glossy Your frailties lingers around you all the time It is such a difficult book to read yet so enthralling Jealousy, freedom of making your own mistakes, poverty, ambition, lack of it, needs can make you do weird and miraculous things.Read Shiva Naipaul for the boldness and compelling narration What a talent he has been and Alas what he would have been, had life been on his side Simply impactful The story of a man called Egbert Ramsaran Wanted to read something by Shiva Naipaul It wasn t an easy read as it wasn t in a style I was used to I liked reading about the East Indian community in Trinidad and the characters stayed with me. 1977 Whitbread NovelAn interesting look at one family s life in Trinidad. The Author Brings To Life An Unforgettable Cast Of Characters Set In A Tightly Knit Hindu Community In Trinidad, Against A Backdrop Of The Idiosyncrasies Of A Particular Culture And The Sometimes Hilarious, Sometimes Poignant Truths About Human Society A Compelling, Tragic, Painfully Comic Masterpiece THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Shiva Naipaul 25 February 1945 13 August 1985 , born Shivadhar Srivinasa Naipaul in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, was a Trinidadian and British novelist and journalist.Shiva Naipaul was the younger brother of novelist V S Naipaul He went first to Queen s Royal College and St Mary s College in Trinidad, then emigrated to Britain, having won a scholarship to study Chinese at University C

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  • Paperback
  • 320 pages
  • The Chip-Chip Gatherers (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
  • Shiva Naipaul
  • English
  • 22 August 2018
  • 9780140188257

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