Bethonie Butler
July 20, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The 10 stories in The Guyanese Wanderer are driven by Jan Carew’s characters, from Tengar, who’s struggling to understand his younger brother’s death, to the fiercely independent Belle, who defies authority, even at her own funeral. While the setting shifts from South America to London to Paris, the best tales infuse Carew’s view of his native Guyana with folkloric elements, as when a man makes the Grim Reaper his child’s godfather. Carew relies too often on flowery similes (”whenever his eyes made four with Chantal’s, his faint heart wriggled like a trapped guppy fish”), but he makes his characters feel both real and magical. B+

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