Lawrence Scott

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Lawrence Scott (born in Trinidad, 1943) is an award-winning novelist and short-story writer from Trinidad & Tobago, who divides his time between London and Port of Spain.[1] His novels have been awarded (1998) and short-listed (1992, 2004) for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and thrice nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (for Aelred's Sin in 2000,[2] Night Calypso in 2006[3] and Light Falling on Bamboo in 2014).[4] His stories have been much anthologised and he won the Tom-Gallon Short-Story Award in 1986.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Trinidad on a sugarcane estate[5] where his father was the manager for Tate & Lyle,[6] Scott is a descendant of Trinidad's French and German creoles. "His father's side came from Germany in the 1830s and were called Schoener. His mother's family, the Lange dynasty, were French-descended and part of an established white Creole community."[7]

Scott was educated at Boys' RC School, San Fernando, Trinidad (1950–54), and by the Benedictine monks at the Abbey School, Mount Saint Benedict, Tunapuna (1955–62), before leaving at the age of 19 for England.[8] There he attended Prinknash Abbey, Gloucester, studying philosophy and theology (1963–67), St Clare's Hall Oxford, gaining a BA Hons. degree in English Language & Literature (1968–72), and Manchester University, earning a Certificate in Education, English & Drama (Distinction) in 1972–73.[9]

Between 1973 and 2006 Scott worked as a teacher (of English and Drama) at various schools in London and in Trinidad, including Sedgehill, London; Thomas Calton Comprehensive, London; Presentation College, San Fernando, Trinidad; Aranguez Junior Secondary, Trinidad; Tulse Hill Comprehensive and Archbishop Tenison's, London. Between 1983 and 2006 he taught Literature and Creative Writing at City & Islington Sixth Form College, London.[9]

In parallel to his teaching, Scott's career as a creative writer includes the publication since the 1990s of novels and collections of short stories. His stories have also been broadcast on BBC radio and have been anthologised internationally, notably in The Penguin Book of Caribbean Short Stories, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and Our Caribbean, A Gathering of Lesbian & Gay Writing from the Antilles (Duke University Press). He has published poetry in several anthologies and journals, including Colours of a New Day: Writing for South Africa (Lawrence & Wishart, 1990), Caribbean New Voices 1 (Longman, 1995), Trinidad & Tobago Review, Cross/Cultures 60 (Editions Rodopi B.V. Amsterdam – New York, 2002), Agenda and Wasafiri. In addition he is the author of numerous essays, reviews and interviews on the work of other Caribbean writers, including Earl Lovelace[10] and Derek Walcott.[11]

Scott was a Writer-in-Residence at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2004. In 2006–09 he was a senior research fellow of The Academy for Arts, Letters, Culture and Public Affairs at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).

His academic research has included the Golconda Research/Writing Project, an oral history project in Trinidad.[12] He has also researched extensively the life and times of Trinidad's 19th-century artist Michel-Jean Cazabon,[13] which work informs his 2012 novel Light Falling on Bamboo.[14]

Writing[edit]

In 1986, Scott's short story "The House of Funerals" won the Tom-Gallon Award.[15] Since 1992 his published books include four novels, a collection of short stories and a work of non-fiction.

His first novel, Witchbroom (1992), was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers' Prize and was abridged as a Book at Bedtime on BBC Radio 4[15] in 1993, abridged by Margaret Busby in eight episodes, produced by Marina Salandy-Brown and read by the author.[16][17] A 25th-anniversary edition of Witchbroom, published by Papillote Press, was launched in Trinidad at PaperBased bookshop in Port-of-Spain on 18 March 2017, with a keynote address by Earl Lovelace and readings by Ken Ramchand, Barbara Jenkins and Marina Salandy-Brown.[18] It was described by Trinidad and Tobago Newsday as "a breathtaking novel, filled with memorable characters and important history."[19]

Of his 1994 story collection Ballad for the New World, Publishers Weekly said: "Scott ... has filled his collection of 12 short stories with all the rich nuances of the Caribbean, creating a convincing backdrop that allows even the most sedentary armchair traveler to visualize each tale's progression."[20]

Scott's second novel, Aelred's Sin (1998), described by Raoul Pantin as "a fine and sensitive and compassionate book…a worthwhile contribution to the hallowed tradition of West Indian literature",[21] won a Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book (Canada & Caribbean) in 1999. Night Calypso (2004), Scott's next novel, was described by Mike Phillips in The Guardian as "unique in being a serious, knowledgeable and beautifully written treatise about a little-known corner of experience and its relationship to a wider world",[22] while Chris Searle in the Morning Star called it "an educative, startling and moving reading experience".[23]

Scott's most recent novel, Light Falling on Bamboo (2012) was called "really a fascinating read" by Verdel Bishop in the Trinidad Express.[24] Set in early 19th-century Trinidad, while the novel is a re-imagining of the life of the celebrated landscape painter Cazabon, according to Monique Roffey's review in The Independent Scott captures so much more. This novel shows us the dark 'truth of an age' in a small corner of the New World, once dependent on slave labour."[25] Selwyn Cudjoe's review stated: "Lawrence Scott has written an important historical romance. [...] the loving attention that Scott devotes to detail, sensitivity to light and colour, and his determination to capture the many tones of his landscape and people give his romance a translucence and luminosity that is wondrous to behold. We owe him a debt of gratitude for offering us this way of seeing during this period in our history."[26]

In 2015 Scott's collection of stories Leaving By Plane Swimming Back Underwater was published by Papillote Press.[27] Alexander Lucie-Smith wrote in the Catholic Herald: "Scott’s writing resembles that fretwork familiar from decaying porches and window frames: intricate, almost rococo, and because Trinidad is such a multi-layered place, because nothing is simple, his style is perfectly suited to his subject. Scott comes nearest to any English language author I know to carrying off that difficult task of evoking a place that is real and at the same time completely other."[28]

Bibliography[edit]

Novels

Short stories

  • Ballad for the New World (Heinemann Caribbean Writers Series, 1994, ISBN 978-0435989392) – includes the prize-winning story "The House of Funerals" (Tom-Gallon Award, 1986).
  • Leaving by Plane Swimming Back Underwater (Papilotte Press, 2015; ISBN 9780957118782)

Non-fiction

  • Golconda: Our Voices Our Lives (UTT Press, 2009), editor.

Further reading[edit]

  • Aiyejina, Funso, 2003. "Self Portrait – Lawrence Scott novelist, short story writer and poet in conversation with Funso Aiyejina" (interview conducted 16 August 1998, Maraval, Port-of Spain), Trinidad & Tobago Review 20, no. 12, December 1998, pp. 10–11, 14–16, 19.
  • Ferguson, James. 2000. "The Worlds of Lawrence Scott – beatprofile", Caribbean Beat, No. 43 May/June 2000, pp. 48–52.
  • Maes-Jelinek, Hena, "Lawrence Scott's Caribbeanness: A personal reading of Witchbroom and Aelred's Sin", The Literary Criterion 35, 2000.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lawrence Scott, "Region, Location and Aesthetics: An Interview", in Michael Niblett and Kerstin Oloff (eds), Perspectives on the 'other America': Comparative Approaches to Caribbean and Latin American Culture, Editions Rodopi, 2009, pp. 257–70.
  2. ^ 2000 Longlist, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
  3. ^ 2006 Longlist, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
  4. ^ The Nominees, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2014.
  5. ^ Tindal Street Press author page.
  6. ^ Gemma Bowes, "Writer Lawrence Scott on Trinidad: carnival, calypso and ecotourism", The Guardian (London), 24 April 2015.
  7. ^ Stewart Brown, The Caribbean Voice profile of Lawrence Scott.
  8. ^ Lawrence Scott, "The Visit", "These Immigrants: Writers tell stories of their own migrations", Commonwealth Writers, 8 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Biography, Lawrence Scott website.
  10. ^ "Matura Days – A Memoir", Anthurium, Vol. 4, Issue 2, Fall 2006.
  11. ^ Derek Walcott: An Interview, from English & Media Magazine, 1993.
  12. ^ Marina Salandy-Brown, "Golconda's living history", Newsday (Trinidad & Tobago), 5 November 2009.
  13. ^ Samantha Noel, "Scott reflects on Cazabon connection", Trinidad Guardian, 27 June 2007.
  14. ^ "Light Falling on Bamboo" (review), Historical Novel Society.
  15. ^ a b Kim Robinson-Walcott, "Scott, Lawrence", in Eugene Benson and L. W. Conolly (eds), Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, Routledge, 2nd edn 2005, p. 1414.
  16. ^ "A Book at Bedtime: Witchbroom", Radio Times, Issue 3624, 17 June 1993, p. 125.
  17. ^ Witchbroom at Amazon.
  18. ^ "Witchbroom’s magic rises again", Trinidad & Tobago Guardian, 27 March 2017.
  19. ^ Debbie Jacob, "Where sexuality does not matter", Newsday, 3 April 207.
  20. ^ "Ballad for the New World and Other Stories" (review), Publishers' Weekly, 10 March 1994.
  21. ^ "Aelred's Sin", Lawrence Scott website.
  22. ^ Mike Phillips, "Island at war", The Guardian, 8 May 2004.
  23. ^ "Night Calypso/Calypso de Nuit", Lawrence Scott website.
  24. ^ Verdel Bishop, "Lawrence Scott...Fills in the blanks with 'Light Falling on Bamboo'", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 23 November 2012.
  25. ^ Monique Roffey, "Light Falling on Bamboo, By Lawrence Scott – A novel of 19th-century Trinidad captures the drama of division in a post-slavery society", The Independent, 8 September 2012.
  26. ^ Selwyn Cudjoe, "Michel-Jean Cazabon: The Making Of A West Indian Artist", Trinidad Sunday Express, 11 January 2013.
  27. ^ Leaving by Plane, Swimming Back Underwater Papilotte Press.
  28. ^ Alexander Lucie-Smith, "The paradise island drenched in pre-Vatican II Catholicism", Catholic Herald, 13 February 2015.
  29. ^ Lawrence Scott, TV and radio.
  30. ^ Njelle W. Hamilton, "On Memory and the Archives of Caribbean History — A Conversation with Lawrence Scott", Wasafiri, 2017.

External links[edit]