Lovelace has been a civil servant as well as a writer. His novels, all set in his native Trinidad, focus on the socioeconomic problems that come with the transition from an agrarian society to an industrialized one.
"[H]is most assured work to date..., it allows him to display his remarkable capacity as a poetic and innovative fiction writer. It represents Lovelace's take on Caribbean colonial and post-colonial history and is, no doubt, a novel that he needed to write....For those not familiar with the range of this West Indian writer, 'Salt' is a solid introduction to his work."
"[The characters] are all credible and well-drawn, but none can compare with the book's true protagonist: the island of Trinidad, which is evoked in a generous, torrential prose that seems to hold every complexity--of history, of ethnicity, of reason and magic alike--within its rushing energy."
"'Salt' follows 'The Wine of Astonishment' by 14 years, and it is in many ways the climax of the oeuvre, an expansion and refinement of the character types, political topographies, and historical mises-en-scène that appear in earlier novels, and a synthesis of their stylistic experiments....New in this work...is an instinct for comedy, for the wry deflating touch that allows one elsewhere to be truly serious....'Salt' is what is called 'fully realized', the novel that every novelist wants to write but most often can't..."
"'Salt'...offers a rich portrait-gallery of individuals trying to attain 'personhood' in a world which has denied their human worth....Ultimately Lovelace asserts the individuality of his characters most strongly through the sheer exuberance of his storytelling. The narrative interweaves several tales in a wandering but entirely satisfying way. The style is similarly uncontrolled. Sentences snake down the page, threatening to end but meandering on and absorbing the reader as they do so....He is a wonderful storyteller, one of the Caribbean's best."
"Earl Lovelace constructs a network of characters and changes the novel's narrative perspective from chapter to chapter, using the voices of people of different races and different time. His characters are swiftly but sweetly crafted. In a flexible time-scheme, which seems to span the period from the 1930s to the 1980s, the past combines freely with the present to convey a powerful sense of Trinidad's cultural history--a jostling mixture of black, white, Indian, and Chinese. this mixture is part and parcel of the country's perennial political dilemma: either each race is by nature a separate entity looking out for itself, or community must prevail. Alfrod's ambitious political vision is a combination of the two: essentially that everyone pulls together, without forgetting where they've come from."
From the Publisher
A respected Trinidadian novelist, in his first novel since 1982, tells the story of two men, each of whom in his own way tries to improve the lot of his countrymen. Alford is a schoolteacher who has unwittingly undermined the stability of Trinidad by encouraging children to emigrate. Bango is a simple, philosophical craftsman who tries in another, more productive way to unify and motivate the children of his community. Winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1997.
Set in Trinidad, the story is launched by the mythical tale of Guinea John, an ancestor of Blackpeople, who put two corn cobs under his arm pits and flew from a clifftop, away from the scene of his enslavement, back to Africa. His descendants have eaten salt, grown too heavy to fly, and cannot follow him. They are left to wrestle with their future on the island. Now, more than one hundred years after "Emancipation", like all the people who share the island - Asians, Africans, and Europeans - they need to be weaned from old captivities and welcomed into the New World. Addressing the challenge of this liberating welcome are Alford George, schoolteacher turned politician; Bango Durity, laborer and activist; and a swirl of unforgettable men and women - minor characters of major proportions - telling their stories in their own voices; all striving with passion and wit to make sense of their lives in the still-young country where the roles of enslaved and landowner still linger, but "the sky, the sea, every green leaf and tangle of vines sing freedom".
Editors Note 2
A West Indian novel of "generous, torrential prose"(New York Times Book Review), winner of the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize. One hundred years after Emancipation, the diverse people of TrinidadAfrican, Asian, and Europeanhave not settled into the New World. In Salt, an unforgettable cast of men and women strive with wit and passion to make sense of life in an evolving homeland.