A Brutal Heritage Finally Revealed

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2018-03-18 01:00Z by Steven

A Brutal Heritage Finally Revealed

Book Review
The New York Times

Sheila A. Kohler

Krystal A. Sital
Elwira Katarzyna Maciejewski

SECRETS WE KEPT: Three Women of Trinidad
By Krystal A. Sital
337 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $25.95.

When Krystal Sital’s grandfather Shiva Singh suffers a cerebral hemorrhage, her grandmother Rebecca, after 53 years of marriage, reacts with calm indifference. Sital, who reveres her tall, strong and generous grandfather, with his white hair and “skin the color of a sapphire sky,” spends much of her suspenseful memoir, “Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad,” elucidating this response.

With the family patriarch debilitated, Sital’s grandmother and her mother are safe for the first time, able to share their secrets with Sital, who listens, her blood pumping to a “chant I cannot forget.” These vivid memories attack us as they do her, “in waves.”…

…The Trinidad depicted here is rife with prejudice and hate. Hostility persists between the Africans, brought as slaves, and the Indians, who arrived as indentured servants. Those of mixed race are called “mulatto,” “dougla” and “cocopanyol” — “the words are hissed and spat at my family: My grandmother is mixed, my Indian grandfather is not.”…

Read the entire review here.

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Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Monographs, United States, Women on 2018-03-18 00:23Z by Steven

Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad

W. W. Norton & Company
February 2018
352 pages
5.9 × 8.6 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-60926-4

Krystal A. Sital

An eloquent new Caribbean literary voice reveals the hidden trauma and fierce resilience of one Trinidadian family.

There, in a lush landscape of fire-petaled immortelle trees and vast plantations of coffee and cocoa, where the three hills along the southern coast act as guardians against hurricanes, Krystal A. Sital grew up idolizing her grandfather, a wealthy Hindu landowner. Years later, to escape crime and economic stagnation on the island, the family resettled in New Jersey, where Krystal’s mother works as a nanny, and the warmth of Trinidad seems a pretty yet distant memory. But when her grandfather lapses into a coma after a fall at home, the women he has terrorized for decades begin to speak, and a brutal past comes to light.

In the lyrical patois of her mother and grandmother, Krystal learns the long-held secrets of their family’s past, and what it took for her foremothers to survive and find strength in themselves. The relief of sharing their stories draws the three women closer, the music of their voices and care for one another easing the pain of memory.

Violence, a rigid ethnic and racial caste system, and a tolerance of domestic abuse—the harsh legacies of plantation slavery—permeate the history of Trinidad. On the island’s plantations, in its growing cities, and in the family’s new home in America, Secrets We Kept tells a story of ambition and cruelty, endurance and love, and most of all, the bonds among women and between generations that help them find peace with the past.

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