Satire and dramatic irony are the hallmarks of the latest work by Caymanian author and historian Roy Bodden.
The book, ‘A Gathering of Old Men’, is being launched today (Saturday, 9 June).
In this work, Mr Bodden shines the spotlight on Cayman’s economy, with a critical look at the financial sector and provides a historical perspective into economic and cultural pursuits including shipbuilding, turtling and sailing.
Just as he did in his last book, ‘Patronage, Personalities and Parties: Caymanian Politics from 1950-2000′, Mr Bodden returns to the theme of Caymanians and expatriates. He also talks of whites and near whites who have economic might.
In this anthology, Mr Bodden takes on the forces that, he says, have faced Caymanian politics — imperialism, greed, colonialism, Americanisation and globalisation.
Greed in society is portrayed in the story, ‘The Death of Artimetra Johnson’. The central character is an old widow who is disinherited by Dr Evans, who plots to set Mrs Johnson’s house on fire while all her windows are closed.
Repeating what he said in ‘Patronage, Personalities and Parties: Caymanian Politics from 1950-2000′, Mr Bodden cautions that Caymanians must guard against the “Jamaicanisation” of the Caymanian politics and the “Americanisation” of its economy.
This is explored in the story, ‘Con-incident’, an account of how the turtling merchant is able to exploit other Caymanians.
In ‘Miskiti Cays’, Mr Bodden reveals the inequality in society through the captain who tells a young child that on the ship we are all equal in what we eat, but not in the sharing of proceeds from a voyage.
In ‘The Advocate’, which, in the opinion of this reviewer, is the best in the collection Mr Bodden relates a Caymanian lawyer’s argument to the White-controlled judiciary, through which he was able to swing a surprise that left the judge and the jury dumbfounded. It was not necessarily a good interpretation of the law, but the client of Wilfred Augustus Conrad McFarlane won the case, albeit with Machiavellian tactics.
In this story, the author opines: “Today, expatriate attorneys still monopolise corporate practice…but thank God Caymanians still control the halls of politics. Caymanians from all walks of life speak respectfully of Augustus Conrad McFarlane, who along with other sensible Caymanians, long for the end of the corrupt colonial system.”
Through his choice of themes — such as a love triangle and expatriates engaging in politics — Mr Bodden is hardly subtle about the issues he wishes to highlight.
He paints of a picture of how every day, Caymanians have to surmount barriers placed by the expatriate-dominated legal system.
Not only does Roy Bodden focus on politics; he also talks of contemporary social issues, such as Caymanian women losing their husbands to girls from a certain unnamed country. In the story, the fortune teller is supposed to tell Carolina, the main character what the future holds, but because she has information from other sources, she looks for a way of dodging that responsibility. However, it was known that Carolina had already contracted a venereal disease from her husband.
In this latest book, Mr Bodden has shifted away from the academic style and jargon that made his previous works quite complex to read.
Mr Bodden’s other books include : ‘Stories My Grandfather Never Told Me’ and ‘The Cayman Islands in Transition: The Politics, Historyand Sociology of a Changing Society’.