The Ventriloquist's Tale
Rare is the voice that can conjure forth an entire world. With the title metaphor of ventriloquism guiding this exquisite exploration into three generations of Guyanese life, Melville does just that. A true raconteuse, Melville schemes love as transgression and culture as miscegenation running rampant throughout South American forest, savannah, and city. Rosa arrives from Britain to study Evelyn Waugh's 1933 visit to the colony. She soon becomes involved with Chofy, a native (by way of Scotland and Jamaica) between whose ancestral aunt and uncle a florid, taboo love once bloomed. Resultant stories compose The Ventriloquist's Tale. Melville balances an understanding of myth, magic, and modernity, although her writing's impish lyricality sides with mysteries of passion and form that the colonial mind habitually miscomprehends. Her writing is more than cerebral, sensual, sly and provocative. It is original.