Helen Tiffin


With the possible exception of V. S. Naipaul's Mr Biswas, no other character in West Indian fiction is as well-known and well loved as Sam Selvon's Moses Aloetta. Moses is the central figure in three of Selvon's novels, and his adventures in London and Trinidad span a crucial thirty years of contemporary West Indian migration to Britain. The Lonely Londoners (1956) details the fortunes (and misfortunes) of Moses and his fellow West Indians in the metropolis in the early years of West Indian mass migration. By the time of Moses Ascending (1975) generational 'indigemsation' of West Indians in Britain, independence, and Black Power movements had altered the London scene. West Indians had gained an often uneasy foothold in 'the motherland' and Moses is now the owner of his own house, though (not untypically) his fortunes suffer a reversal at the end. Moses Migrating (1983) builds on this contemporary relation between a more 'indigenised' generation of West Indians and their 'ancestral' island homelands, and like many of his contemporaries and their British-born progeny, Moses returns to Trinidad for Carnival.



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