The Polished Hoe: A Novel

The Polished Hoe: A Novel

Austin Clarke

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0060557621

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


When Mary-Mathilda, one of the most respected women of the island of Bimshire (also known as Barbados) calls the police to confess to a crime, the result is a shattering all-night vigil that brings together elements of the island's African past and the tragic legacy of colonialism in one epic sweep.

Set in the West Indies in the period following World War II, The Polished Hoe -- an Essence bestseller and a Washington Post Book World Most Worthy Book of 2003 -- unravels over the course of twenty-four hours but spans the collective experience of a society characterized by slavery.

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is dark; and she must get to the place she is heading to, in a hurry; but she cannot hurry, because in this rush that is anxious, something always happens to delay the time of arrival and destiny. But the reaching of destination is precisely the cause of her anxiety . . . Even though he does not move, to help her keep the rhythm, she can feel the liveliness in his body . . . The sky is dark. He is looking at the stars. They are far away. Music comes into his mind. He cannot say the name of the

front-houses, to have tea with them. Or to dinner. Saturday night after Saturday night will come and pass, and you will find me here, watching the stars and the tops of the canes. Watching the four walls, as the saying goes. A invitement from one o’ them bitches to dinner in their home? I would dead waiting for one! Not even for a cucumber sangwich . . . not that their cooking is anything to make your mouth water! So tasteless; and without salt. And don’t talk about no pepper! Yes . . . “It is

people not born yet, but who, when they hear the calypso, would know that Clotelle existed in a certain time, lived in that time and met her death in that time, by certain means. Our singing the calypso on Clotelle was our way of saying these things to the world. “That calypso was therefore something like a history, or like a myth. I got that word, myth, from Wilberforce. We were building-up a myth over Clotelle. It is something like a shrine, then. Yes? “That is the word! Maybe that is the

went together mainly to Church outings and picnics. You went with the men, to the ‘brams,’ mainly where men mostly congregate. Like the Shed, in Queen’s Park. Constable say that you really like to play the piano for your bosom-friends on a Friday night. Isn’t that the piano I hear your daughter send-down from Amurca, by boat?” “The first girl!” “Ruby, then!” “Ruby, the first-daughter.” “In domestic work, isn’t she?” “Domestic work.” “You ever see the mother?” “The mother left for Demerara

sugar cane. She rises from her rocking chair, and she goes and sits on the piano bench, beside him. She places her hands over his. And as if she is a kindergarten teacher guiding him in the first curves of learning Penmanship, controlling his handwriting; she guides his hand over the keys; and he looks up at her; into her eyes; and she gives him back the look; and he closes his eyes because he knows the music by heart; and she locks her eyes onto his closed eyes, and continues to guide his

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