|This is my first collection of short stories. I have been writing short stories
since my high school days at Saint Mary's Academy,
Roseau,Commonwealth of Dominica.. During that time I also contributed
stories for publication in The Star newspaper edited then by the late Phyllis
Shand-Allfrey. In 1975 I participated in the National Day short story
competition with Converted, the story of a man who fills in at the last
moment as the godfather at the baptism of his friend's child. That entry
placed first that year. The poem I contributed that year also placed first.
The stories, except for A Life Wasted, are based on life-like events in the
West Coast of St. Joseph where I grew up. Although the characters: John,
Joseph, Wally, Sandra, Michael and others all seem to be real, the stories
in Mesye Kwik! Kwak! are all fictitious accounts of village life in Dominica.
It's a culmination of years of hard work and I hope that I was able to capture
village life at its best.
Dominica is an island rich in culture and with a history that encompasses various forms of the country's
transformation from colonialism to independence. African slaves, brought to the island to work on the
British plantations, carried with them their various myths, beliefs, languages and art forms and these have
passed down through the generations. Today they are still an integral part of this country's heritage.
The characters in Mesye Kwik! Kwak! are used to portray some of these and other aspects of Dominican
life which still have their bearing from years past. The young boys in The Stone and in The Pilgrim
introduce us to the belief of Dominicans in evil spirits, the lougarou and la diabless, and the power of
religion. Grandpa Was in America shows us Dominica's fixation to the American way of life and in A
Father's Hope we see the widening gap between generations in the country-and there's more.
So read along with me as I tell my story.
Meesssye Kwik! Kwaaak!
Excerpts from the Foreword by Edward "King Shakey" James
I have lost count of the number of times I have heard this exchange between a story-teller and his
audience as he stood on stage at one of the konte competitions in Dominica, West Indies. This exchange
established a bond between the storyteller and the audience. "Mesye Kwik!" could well be translated,
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you some fiction!" "Kwak!" could then be translated, "Yes, it is fiction!" or
"Fine, let me hear it!" Indeed, the "Kwik-Kwak" relationship has become so ingrained in Dominican
culture that when one's friends determine that he is exaggerating about a particular event, rather than
using the brash admonition, "You are lying!" the friends gently say, "Man, you making Kwik!"
After all, to "make a Kwik" or "tell a Kwik" is not something too bad. To do so would be to follow in the
tradition of the konte-tellers, those men and women who, with much bravado and gusto, recount tales of
Dominican folklore: tales of the soucouyant, la diablese and lougarou, and of cunning animals out-foxing
their timid four-legged relatives-and even some humans, too. What tales those storytellers tell!.........
In Mesye Kwik! Kwak!, Giftus John does not tell stories of cunning rabbits and wily spiders. He does not
recount tales of soucouyants flying at night or of la diableses with goat's feet. Still, his stories reflect the
richness of Dominica's folklore. Correction: the stories reflect the richness of West Indian folklore. At the
same time, the stories also deliver some potent messages, messages that extol the virtues of faith, hope
and determination and, in a not-too-subtle manner, call for socio-economic and political change in
Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean.
|Copies of Mesye Kwik! Kwak! are available at :
Barnes & Noble.com
If you would like to order a copy directly from me
or if you have any questions please email me at
Price per copy is US$13.95 plus S&H US$3.25 within the US
For people in Canada S&H is US$3.75. England S&H is US$8.70
and Dominica S&H is US$9.25
|The cover was designed by Giftus John. Artwork created by Ronald "Baba" Deschamp.