New book blends calypso and noir

Duff Mitchell of Trinidad and Tobago Folk Art Institute reading his detailed review of “Gypsy in the Moonlight.”
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Literary genres go far beyond the simple fiction and nonfiction. Every day, an author is experimenting with new ways to combine themes that on the surface level seem worlds apart.

Forging a new genre blending calypso and noir is Trinidadian author and professor Lawrence Waldron in his first novel, “Gypsy in the Moonlight.”

“I have attempted to start a new genre, combining what I describe myself as the wit, gender anxieties, distrust, cynicism, humor – often a very dark humor that is both typically noir and typically calypso,” he explained.

Set in World War II Trinidad, Waldron aims to take readers on a journey through that historic time.

“I was actually surprised that no one tried to combine noir and calypso, these two uniquely modern mediums, while they were in their golden age during the 1930s and 40s,” he said.

An intimate group of fans and supporters gathered at the Brooklyn Public Library Flatbush branch to celebrate the launch of Waldron’s novel.

Before the program began, organized by the Caribbean Awareness Committee and Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Committee, attendees enjoyed light refreshments and a slideshow of Waldron’s “Trinidad Noir Dictionary,” which is also available on his book’s Facebook page.

Serving as the MC, Jennifer Joseph of the Caribbean Awareness Committee, invited Duff Mitchell up to the podium where he read a detailed review of Waldron’s piece.

According to Mitchell, “In this book, one can read for pleasure as well as for entertainment. One can also gain a deeper understanding of life.”

Towards the end of Mitchell’s reading, Waldron warned for spoiler alerts as his review provided an in-depth look at the characters and plot.

Following Mitchell’s review, Waldron took center stage where he proved to those in attendance just how calypso and noir walk along the same lines — focusing on the darkness of music genre’s lyrics and distrustful nature seen in noir.

“Calypso’s topics and noir’s topics, calypso’s style and noir’s style are uniquely and unexpectedly compatible,” he said.

“Gypsy in the Moonlight” blends fiction and reality, often citing real locations in Trinidad and referring to actual lyrics and characters in Calypso songs.

During Waldron’s readings of certain passages, the crowd was transported into the vivid imagery of “Gypsy in the Moonlight” as he gave life to every character — switching his tone of voice and body language to literally become his characters.

“Gypsy in the Moonlight” is available for $20 on Waldron’s blog, https://bonhammars.wordpress.com/author/ieredelta/.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aoliv[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.
Author Lawrence Waldron reading passages from his new novel, “Gypsy in the Moonlight.”
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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