Those Who Eat the Cascadura


182 pages
ISBN 0-920661-12-2
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Kenrick E.A. Mose

Kenrick E.A. Mose is an associate professor of Spanish Studies at the
University of Guelph.


This latest novel by Trinidadian novelist Selvon is a work of nostalgia.
The title is based on a rhyme learned by schoolchildren in Trinidad,
which prefaces the book: “Those who eat the cascadura will, the native
legend says, wheresoever they may wander, end in Trinidad their days.”
This rhyme posits an inevitable return to Trinidad, which seems
applicable to Selvon himself, as he lovingly re-creates the cocoa estate
of Sans Souci, an area jostled (in the novel) by expanding sugar-cane
plantations that threaten to swallow it up.

It is as if Selvon were trying to preserve the image of a way of life
that might disappear. For this reason, his characters fall into
well-known patterns. There is the expatriate English estate owner, Roger
Franklin, recently widowed and maintaining a secret liaison with an
Indian girl, Kamalla. Roger’s friend Garry Johnson, of uncertain life
expectancy due to shrapnel lodged in his skull, comes to visit and falls
in love with the beautiful Indian girl Sarojini, Roger’s secret
daughter whom Garry must leave when he returns home. Their love, which
blooms with the promise and color of a cocoa pod, is developed slowly,
intertwining the previous characters with other typical figures: old
Eloisa, Roger’s possessive cook and housekeeper; Prekash, the young
Indian overseer to whom Sarojini’s father has promised her; the
drunkard Ramdeen; Manko, the obeah man, who makes some stunning
pronouncements and predictions; Dummy, the deaf-mute attached to
Sarojini; and Devertie, the old French Creole.

The novel also details many typicalities of scene and life: the dancing
of the cocoa; the devastation of a tropical hurricane; the beauty and
color of nature, especially the cocoa trees nestling under the huge,
flowering immortelle trees; the Hindu temple and dances; the
superstitions of the bloodsucking soucouyant, the lagahoo, and the
diablesse; and the colorful institution of the taxi driver. Not the last
of these elements is the Creole language itself, modified a bit by
Selvon’s travels, but still rich and even memorable at times.

In a nostalgic glance, Selvon has evidently brought into focus things
he loves. As a credit to his skill in developing his story, his clever
and knowledgeable use of detail, and his work’s deceptive simplicity,
he manages to infuse all these typicalities with life and drama, and to
touch the reader’s esthetic response with his lyrical gifts.


Selvon, Samuel., “Those Who Eat the Cascadura,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,