Reviews

 While political and historical analyses [of the Grenada Revolution] abound, Shalini Puri’s wonderful new book offers something completely different: a kind of cultural geography of present-day Grenada which seeks out the places in which the restless memories of the Revolution are embedded. Through an ethnographic immersion in the local culture she attends to all forms of remembrance, from literary text to calypso, from memorabilia to architecture.  The result is a startlingly original and haunting set of analyses. 

— Peter Hulme, Professor of Literature, University of Essex

Puri’s book … offers an account of the ways in which desire, despair, hope, and betrayal are lived and experienced by ordinary people.  Puri builds an archive through readings of landscape, music, and literature that show how both memory and its silencing are embodied in the intimacies of everyday life.  She thus destabilizes categories like collaborator and vanguard, comrade and traitor, by focusing instead on what it would mean to imagine alternative politics through the micropoetics of artistic practices and the cultural geographies of land.  By investigating how memory erupts, as well as how it lies unnoticed, unmemorialized, and even buried, Puri asks us to imagine democracy, engagement, and the politics of research in new ways. 

— Deborah Thomas, Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies,
University of Pennsylvania

Shalini Puri leaves the well-trodden path of previous accounts of the rise and fall of the Grenada Revolution that are reliably inscribed within a sturdy political economy idiom.  She risks instead a finely textured narrative that draws on the resources of the aesthetic and of memory in its various forms to bring to the surface the more elusive omissions.  The necessity of such a work resides in the fact that, notwithstanding the sometimes exceptional scholarship of existing histories of the period, the regional Left has not recovered from the collapse of the Grenada Revolution.  Puri’s book in its quiet, meditative unfolding re-energizes the search for a politics of the possible.

— Rupert Roopnaraine, Working People’s Alliance, Guyana;
author of The Sky’s Wild Noise: Selected Essays

Shalini Puri’s The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present, is a sensitively crafted tour de force…. Her broad brushed methodology draws on interviews, conversations, personal observation and the filtering of art, literature, monuments and music. She also utilizes other, less explored ways of knowing––graffiti; Maurice Bishop’s calling card; an abandoned Cuban plane; a stained glass window—which, together, locate her work between an evidence-based social science account of the Revolution and its aftermath and the poetic license afforded the arts. Her almost spiritual engagement with these mementos allows her to see the present in the past and brings an unprecedented immediacy and authenticity to her story telling…. This is a story beautifully and powerfully told.

                      — Patsy Lewis, University of the West Indies, Mona, Ethnohistory

Shalini Puri’s reception by the Grenadian people of all social classes and political factions is nothing short of remarkable….  This book is a must read for anyone interested in the history, politics, philosophy, sociology and pain of the Caribbean.

  –- Anton L. Allahar, Sociology Department, University of Western Ontario
Socialism and Democracy

[U]nusually for the work of an academic, her book has another purpose beyond historical and cultural analysis and the charting of the considerable impact across the Caribbean of the ‘Revo’, with the regional wake of its progress and its wreckage. Her book also explicitly carries a message of healing and renewal as much as it is an accounting of epochal failure, and this is what makes it so extraordinary. In the thirty plus years since the violent divisions and atrocious events of October 1983, I have not read another narrative like it.

––Chris Searle, Race and Class 

Shalini Puri’s first monograph, The Caribbean Postcolonial, showed her to be one of the most thoughtful and committed cultural critics of Caribbean radicalism…. The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present provides a model for a politically urgent literary studies, showing how much a cultural studies approach can offer to the rethinking of radical postcolonial projects….  The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present is brilliant simply as a cultural history….  [T]he book’s bibliography alone is a massive contribution to Caribbean Studies.

                                                        — Rafael Daello, Bucknell University, The Comparatist

The book dazzles, provokes, turns us around, and at nearly every turn brings us up against some new angle on the events of 1979 – 1983, and far far beyond….  I found this book extraordinary. It is suffused with Puri’s exhaustive knowledge of the island: music, personalities, history, art, literature, traditions, politics, and regional links. Her writing itself finds a novel terrain where the academic meets the poetic, and she shows a rare ability to interpret the microcosm and find in it the elements that connect us all, returning us again and again to the key events, each time with new depth of understanding….  If you are looking for a book that offers pat answers and reinforces traditional left ideas, with the usual cast of heroes and villains, this is not for you. If, however, you are still plagued, as I am, with images of joyous revolutionary movements followed by tragedy, and the question: “What did they leave behind?” this book will offer you a banquet of new perspectives to ponder.

— Sheyla Hirshon, Havana Times, July 15, 2015
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=112578

El libro deslumbra, provoca, nos da la vuelta y, casi a cada paso, nos confronta con algún nuevo ángulo de los acontecimientos de 1979-1983, y mucho más allá…. [E]ncontré este libro extraordinario. Está impregnado del conocimiento exhaustivo de Puri sobre la Isla: su música, personalidades, historia, arte, literatura, tradiciones, política y vínculos regionales. Su lenguaje encuentra un terreno novedoso donde el académico se mezcla con lo poético y la autora muestra una rara habilidad para interpretar el microcosmo y encontrar allí los elementos que nos unen, llevándonos de regreso una y otra vez a los hechos clave, en cada ocasión con nueva profundidad de entendimiento…. Si usted está buscando un libro que refuerce las ideas tradicionales de la izquierda, que ofrezca el habitual reparto de héroes y villanos o uno que responda perfectamente a todas las preguntas, este no es para usted. No obstante, si como yo, usted está repleto de imágenes de los fecundos movimientos revolucionarios que terminaron en decepción o en tragedia, dejando la pregunta: “¿Qué se quedó de tanta energía y compromiso?” entonces esta obra le ofrecerá un banquete de nuevas perspectivas para reflexionar.

— Sheyla Hirshon, Havana Times, July 15, 2015
http://www.havanatimes.org/sp/?p=107692

We will walk with Shalini Puri’s generous, generative offering for a long time. Her methodological approach, deeply attentive to the vernacular rhythms of this island, one crossroads to the world, reminds us that landscape is archive. Philosophy. Poetics. The route to political accountability and possibility (p. 16). This monograph also reminds us of the gift of imagination and illumination that is the humanities. After all, the Grenadian revolution was not just about logistics and economics: it required daring against seemingly impossible odds, inspiration, love, and a huge leap of faith. This book shows us persuasively, quietly, how faith less accountability can tragically ossify into dogma. But it does not leave us there…. Faith with humility is what is needed to see, to listen, and to learn. It is a wider lesson, offered to all of us from a beautifully small place.

— Alissa Trotz, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies,
University of Toronto
Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

The great American novelist William Faulkner wrote “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” … I’ve been reading a fascinating book, The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present (2014) by the American/Indian academic Shalini Puri. There’s a huge literature about the Revolution and its end, but Puri’s book isn’t a history of what happened. It’s a book about memory, about struggles over how an event should be (or should not be) remembered…. Puri’s book is an original and rewarding study of memory, trauma and recovery, set in the Caribbean in the very recent past, which isn’t past at all.

— Bridget Brereton, Professor Emerita of History,
University of the West Indies
Trinidad and Tobago Express October 8, 2015

[T]he broad scope of this archive … stands out as one of the central contributions of this book to Caribbean Studies. …. Many of the voices that emerge from the book speak as if they had been waiting a long time, and for the right interlocutor, to break their silence and unburden themselves of their memories. … [Puri] is at once literary and cultural critic, historian, geographer, ethnographer, and theorist. (Which is to say this text is representative of what is most essential about Caribbean Studies as a field – its reach across multiple disciplines.)

Laurie Lambert, Assistant Professor of English,

University of California at Davis

Anthurium

[A]n original and well-crafted study – that is strongly based in the humanities, rather than political science.  …. [K]nits together a fascinating array of materials that offer new insights into a period of still contested history.

— Peter Clegg, University of the West of England, Bristol
The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

Shalini Puri’s elegantly written book comes 31 years after the United States’ invasion of Grenada ….The author herself describes the book as “simultaneously a critique, tribute, and memorial”, and it fills all those roles in excellent fashion…. [T]he book can be considered a literary work, fused with criticism and journalism. It even has photographs – some snapped by Puri and others taken from archives or provided by Grenadian sources…. Readers will gain new insights into the momentous events on the Caribbean island, from the overthrow of Prime Minister Eric Gairy in 1979 to the invasion by the United States in 1983.  Puri delves into the charismatic personalities of revolutionary leaders such as Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard and recounts the tragedy of Bishop’s execution in October 1983, before the age of 40…. Puri also examines the long-held silence of some of the participants, including noted writers, but what is most striking about the book is the compassionate tone throughout. It’s as if the author is herself moved by the story she is telling, and touched by the cast of unforgettable characters.

SWAN: Southern World Arts NewsFriday, December 14, 2014
http://southernworldartsnews.blogspot.fr/