An Essay On The Wine Of Astonishment

This article is about the novelist. For the peerage, see Earl of Lovelace.

Earl Lovelace (born 13 July 1935) is an award-winning Trinidadiannovelist, journalist, playwright, and short story writer. He is particularly recognized for his descriptive, dramatic fiction on Trinidadian culture: "Using Trinidadian dialect patterns and standard English, he probes the paradoxes often inherent in social change as well as the clash between rural and urban cultures."[1] As Bernardine Evaristo notes, "Lovelace is unusual among celebrated Caribbean writers in that he has always lived in Trinidad. Most writers leave to find support for their literary endeavours elsewhere and this, arguably, shapes the literature, especially after long periods of exile. But Lovelace's fiction is deeply embedded in Trinidadian society and is written from the perspective of one whose ties to his homeland have never been broken."[2]


Born in Toco, Trinidad and Tobago, Earl Lovelace was sent to live with his grandparents in Tobago at a very young age, but rejoined his family in Toco when he was 11 years old. His family later moved to Belmont, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and then Morvant.[3] Lovelace attended Scarborough Methodist Primary School, Scarborough, Tobago (1940–47), Nelson Street Boys, R.C., Port of Spain (1948), and Ideal High School, Port of Spain (1948–53, where he sat the Cambridge School Certificate).

He worked at the Trinidad Guardian as a proofreader from 1953 to 1954, and then for the Department of Forestry (1954–56) and the Ministry of Agriculture (1956–66). He began writing while stationed in the village of Valencia as a forest ranger.[3]

In 1962 his first novel, While Gods Are Falling, won the Trinidad and Tobago Independence literary competition sponsored by British Petroleum (BP).

From 1966 to 1967, Lovelace studied at Howard University, Washington, DC, and in 1974 he received an MA in English from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, where he was also Visiting Novelist.

He taught at Federal City College (now University of the District of Columbia), Washington, DC (1971–73), and from 1977 to 1987 he lectured in literature and creative writing at the University of the West Indies at St Augustine. Winning a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980, he spent the year as a visiting writer at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.[4]

He was appointed Writer-in-Residence in England by the London Arts Board (1995–96), a visiting lecturer in the Africana Studies Department at Wellesley College, Massachusetts (1996–97), and was Distinguished Novelist in the Department of English at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington (1999–2004).

Lovelace was Trinidad and Tobago's artistic director for Carifesta, held in the country in 1992, 1995 and 2006.[5][6][7]

He is a columnist for the Trinidad Express, and has contributed to a number of periodicals, including Voices, South, and Wasafiri. Based in Trinidad, while teaching and touring various countries, he was appointed to the Board of Governors of the University of Trinidad and Tobago in 2005, the year his 70th birthday was honoured with a conference and celebrations at the University of the West Indies. He is the president of the Association of Caribbean Writers.[8][9]

Lovelace is the subject of a 2014 documentary film by Funso Aiyejina entitled A Writer In His Place.[10][11]

In July 2015, to mark his 80th birthday, Lovelace was honoured by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest with celebrations in Tobago, including film screenings.[12]


When Lovelace's first novel, While Gods Are Falling, was published in 1965, C. L. R. James hailed "a new type of writer, a new type of prose, a different type of work".[13] Lovelace went on to publish five further novels, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize-winning Salt (1996) and, most recently, Is Just a Movie, winner of the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. In 1986, he published the novel The Wine of Astonishment, which deals with the struggle of a Spiritual Baptist community, from the passing of the prohibition ordinance until the ban. He has also written plays, short stories, essays, and a children's book.


His artist son Che Lovelace illustrated the jacket of the 1997 US edition of his novel Salt.[14] Earl Lovelace has collaborated with his filmmaker daughter Asha Lovelace on projects including writing the 2004 feature film Joebell and America,[15] based on his short story of the same title.[16]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 1963, British Petroleum Independence Award, 1963, for While Gods Are Falling.
  • 1966, Pegasus Literary Award, for outstanding contributions to the arts in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • 1977, awards for best play and best music for Pierrot Ginnard.
  • 1980, Guggenheim fellowship.
  • 1985, Jestina’s Calypso voted the most original play at the Trinidad & Tobago Drama Festival.
  • 1986, National Endowment for the Humanities grant.
  • 1988, Chaconia Medal (Gold) from the government of Trinidad & Tobago.
  • 1997, Best Book, Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book), 1997, for Salt.[17]
  • 1998, Shortlist, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Salt.[18]
  • 2002, Honorary Doctorate of Letters from University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago, 2002.
  • 2011, Grand Prize for Caribbean Literature, from Regional Council of Guadeloupe, for Is Just a Movie.[19][20]
  • 2012, OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for Is Just a Movie (winner of Fiction category and overall winner).[21][22]
  • 2012, Caribbean-Canadian Literary Award.[23][24]
  • 2012, Lifetime Literary Award from the National Library and Information System (Nalis), Trinidad.[25]

Selected works[edit]


  • While Gods Are Falling, London: Collins, 1965; Chicago, Illinois: Regnery, 1966.
  • The Schoolmaster, London: Collins, 1968.
  • The Dragon Can't Dance, London: André Deutsch, 1979. Faber & Faber, 1998
  • The Wine Of Astonishment, Oxford: Heinemann Educational Books, Caribbean Writers Series (1983); 2010 edition includes CSEC-specific study notes. ISBN 978-0-435-03340-8
  • Salt (winner of 1997 Commonwealth Writers' Prize; International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award shortlist 1998), London: Faber & Faber, 1996; New York: Persea Books, 1997.
  • Is Just a Movie (winner of 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature), London: Faber & Faber, January 2011. ISBN 0-571-25567-1.

Short-story collection[edit]

  • A Brief Conversion and Other Stories, Oxford: Heinemann, 1988.

Play collection[edit]

  • Jestina's Calypso and Other Plays, Oxford: Heinemann, 1984.

Essay collection[edit]

  • Growing in the Dark. Selected Essays (ed. Funso Aiyejina; San Juan, Trinidad: Lexicon Trinidad, 2003).

Plays and musicals[edit]

  • The New Boss, 1962.
  • My Name Is Village, produced in Port of Spain, Trinidad, at Queen's Hall, 1976.
  • Pierrot Ginnard (musical drama), produced in Port of Spain, Trinidad, at Queen's Hall, 1977.
  • Jestina's Calypso, produced in St Augustine, Trinidad, at the University of the West Indies, 1978.
  • The Wine of Astonishment (adapted from his novel), performed in Port of Spain, Trinidad; Barbados, 1987.
  • The New Hardware Store, produced at University of the West Indies, 1980. Produced in London, England, by Talawa Theatre Company, at the Arts Theatre, 1987.
  • The Dragon Can't Dance (adapted from his novel), produced in Port of Spain, Trinidad, at Queen's Hall, 1986. Published in Black Plays: 2, ed. Yvonne Brewster, London: Methuen, 1989. Produced in London at Theatre Royal Stratford East, by Talawa Theatre Company, with music by Andre Tanker, 29 June - 4 August 1990.
  • The Reign of Anancy, performed in Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1989.
  • Joebell and America, produced in Lupinot Village, Trinidad, 1999.


  • Crawfie the Crapaud (for children), Longman, 1998.
  • George and the Bicycle Pump (also known as Jorge y la bomba; 2000, film directed by Asha Lovelace, based on Earl Lovelace short story in A Brief Conversion And Other Stories)[26]
  • Joebell and America (film, co-written with and directed by Asha Lovelace; Trinidad: Caribbean Communications Network, premiered TV6, Trinidad, 2004).

Further reading[edit]

  • Aiyejina, Funso (ed.), A Place in the World: Essays and Tributes in Honour of Earl Lovelace @ 70. University of the West Indies, Trinidad, 2008.
  • Aiyejina, Funso. “Salt: A Complex Tapestry”, Trinidad and Tobago Review 18.10-12 (1996): 13-16.
  • Dalleo, Raphael. "Cultural Studies and the Commodified Public: Luis Rafael Sánchez's La guaracha del Macho Camacho and Earl Lovelace's The Dragon Can't Dance", Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere: From the Plantation to the Postcolonial, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.
  • Hodge, Merle, "The Language of Earl Lovelace", in Anthurium, Vol. 4, Issue 2, Fall 2006.
  • Raja, Masood Ashraf. "We Is All People: The Marginalized East-Indian and the Economy of Difference in Lovelace's The Dragon Can't Dance". Caribbean Studies. 34 (1): 111–130. 2006. 
  • Schwarz, Bill (ed.), Caribbean Literature after Independence: The Case of Earl Lovelace. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2008. ISBN 978-1-900039-91-8
  • Thomas, H. Nigel. "From ‘Freedom’ to ‘Liberation’: An Interview with Earl Lovelace", World Literature Written in English, 31.1 (1991): 8-20.


  1. ^"Earl Lovelace", Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. ^Bernardine Evaristo, "Is Just a Movie by Earl Lovelace – review. An incisive and witty portrait of Trinidadian society...", The Guardian (London), 29 January 2011.
  3. ^ ab"Earl Lovelace", Best of Trinidad.
  4. ^"Cultural Icons: Earl Lovelace", Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
  5. ^Peter Richards, "Carifesta Overcomes a Comedy of Errors", Inter Press Service, 11 October 2006.
  6. ^"Carifesta IX in Trinidad", The Junction Blog, September 17, 2006.
  7. ^"Some Poetry News – CARIFESTA", Scavella's Blogsphere.
  8. ^"St. Lucia expected to participate in 4th Congress of Caribbean Writers in Guadeloupe", St. Lucia News Online, 7 April 2015.
  9. ^"4th edition of the Congress of Caribbean Writers, one of the most 'popular' editions ever!", Bajan Reporter, 28 April 2015.
  10. ^Verdel Bishop, "A place for Lovelace", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 7 April 2014.
  11. ^Katy Stickland, "Lovelace – ‘A Writer in his Place’"Archived 2014-12-30 at, Tobago News, 12 October 2014.
  12. ^Shereen Ali, "Bocas Lit Fest pays tribute to Earl Lovelace", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 3 July 2015.
  13. ^C. L. R. James, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, July 1969, no. 7, p. 79, quoted by Kenneth Ramchand, "Trinidad’s Earl Lovelace: Watching the Landscape of this Island", Caribbean Beat, Issue 35, January/ February 1999.
  14. ^Cover of US edition of Salt.Archived 2013-02-04 at
  15. ^Joebell and America pageArchived 2014-05-02 at the Wayback Machine. at Caribbean Tales.
  16. ^Jeremy Kay, "Asha Lovelace, 'The Dragon Can’t Dance'", Screen Daily, 26 September 2015.
  17. ^Earl Lovelace biographyArchived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine., British Council, Literature.
  18. ^1998 ShortlistArchived 2013-04-21 at the Wayback Machine., International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
  19. ^Lasana M. Sekou, "George Lamming awarded in Cuba; Derek Walcott wins in Trinidad; Earl Lovelace leads in Guadeloupe", Bahamas Weekly, 9 May 2011.
  20. ^Maia Chung, "Earl Lovelace Pushes For Literary Unity", The Gleaner, 29 May 2011.
  21. ^"Lovelace cops US$10,000 Bocas prize", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 28 April 2012.
  22. ^"Lovelace savours Lit Fest victory", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 29 April 2012.
  23. ^"Writers honoured at Caribbean-Canadian Literary Awards"Archived 2013-01-21 at the Wayback Machine., Share, 1 November 2012.
  24. ^Neil Armstrong, "Olive Senior And Earl Lovelace Honoured In Toronto", The Gleaner, 16 November 2012.
  25. ^Zahra Gordon, "Lovelace: Better future lies in confronting present", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 17 November 2012.
  26. ^"George And The Bicycle Pump", Caribbean Tales.

External links[edit]

  • Trinidadian Letters: Trinidadian Literary Culture at the Wayback Machine (archived April 6, 2003) (26 September 2001): Chezia B. Thompson, "Lovelace"; Brian Pastoor, "Poetry of Paradox in Earl Lovelace's The Dragon Can't Dance"; Funso Aiyejina, "An Intertextual Critical Approach to Salt by Earl Lovelace"; Edith Perez Sisto, Interview with Earl Lovelace.
  • Kelly Hewson, "An Interview with Earl Lovelace, June 2003", Postcolonial Text, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2004).
  • Nadia Indra Johnson, "Earl Lovelace: Selected Bibliography", Anthurium, Vol. 1, Issue 2, Fall 2006.
  • "Earl Lovelace", British Council, Literature. Accessed 27 January 2006.
  • The Strandon Is Just a Movie, BBC World Service, 4 January 2011.
  • “We are on the verge of listening” - Earl Lovelace talks to B.C. Pires, Caribbean Review of Books, January 2011.
  • Sophie Megan Harris, "An Interview with Earl Lovelace" (14 and 24 June 2011), SX Salon, Small Axe, 28 May 2012.
  • Raquel Puig, "The Meandering Mind and the Film Image: Interview with Earl Lovelace", Sargasso: Celebrating Caribbean Voices 2010-2011, Special Issue.
  • J. K. Fowler, "PEN 2013 Workshop: Earl Lovelace on Reclaiming Rebellion", The Mantle, 1 May 2013.
  • Patricia J. Saunders, "The Meeting Place of Creole Culture: A Conversation with Earl Lovelace". Calabash, New York University.
  • Anderson Tepper, "A Badjohn in Harlem: An Afternoon with Earl Lovelace", The Paris Review, 11 April 2012.

1. This chapter opens in a subdued mood…the characters of this chapter are currently experiences hardship. One of the first characters encountered is Eva she is explaining to her eager and inquisitive children why they face such hardship, Eva as the chapter portrays is a woman of god she accepts situations as Gods test, she explained to her children and her husband bee who is also listening that good god lets them suffer because they are special and can bear it. Her son Reggie is getting older and has not qualified for a high school as yet, she laments to her husband bee to ask Ivan Morton the man who they campaigned and voted for help. Her husband bee refuses, nearing the end of the chapter Eva finds out that her son Reggie secretly applied to a high school and got through bee skeptical at first finally gave in and agreed to send him…at the end of the chapter a new unknown character appears and adds suspense and mystery to the chapter.

2. This chapter reveals the ersonality and identity of the mysterious character Bolo,bolo is a famed stick fighter,the best there is and a a well-known ladies man.Bolo’s pastime comes to an end after the carnival which included stickfighting was banned.this chaptr reveals that bolo has a thing for Eulalie this chapter also expresses the impact the American soldiers has on the residents of bonasse.the local residents refuse to farm and prefer to chase the yankee dollor by all means even by prostitution,this chnge upsets Bolo.bolo’s friend goes to port of spain andmakes something of himself and makes his village proud.

3. This chapter brigs to rise the racial strife present in Bonasse , and the antoganissts the Anglicans and Catholics are brainwashing the people thT the Spiritual Baptist are evil thus reducing its congregation.The narrator stresses on the fact that they have something to call their own a place to worship although secretly hidden outside of the the end they were criminals if they worship in that way. They don’t have freedom of religion.this chapter is told in a kind of Flashback.In this chapter Ivan Morton is eexposed as an immoral man because he impregnated bolo’sflame and then married someone else.The tension is raised when as a solulution bolo’s suggests killing the tyrant Police they disagreed with him and decided to wworship the legal way which they later observed didn’t make sense.this chapter closes in suspense after bee said he was going to break the law…

4. Bee is agitated that his two elsest children want to leave home.and the eldest Winston wanting to become a policeman Bee see this as betrayal because police are their main adversaries .he also forlorn because his eldest son winstonwas supposed to be his heir.hehas a mild confrontation and discussion in their garden with Eva. it is this that brings him to his ultimate decision to finally break the law which entails him and his congregation worshipping in their traditional way, they reuse to think about the law their main focus was to praise God in their way.while all this way going on Bolo was significantly absent

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