Goanet Reader [Book Review]: The Sixth Night by Silviano C. Barbosa, reviewed by Zoe Ackah


This review is by Zoe Ackah… FN

Book Review – The Sixth Night by Silviano C. Barbosa

By ZOE ACKAH [The Epoch Times July 21, 2005]

The Sixth Night is a scaled down, James A. Mitchener style historical
fiction set mainly in colonial Goa. Admittedly, before reading the book
I had no idea where Goa was or that it was such a unique and
interesting place. Those of you who lived during the hippie era are
probably more than familiar with Goa, which gained great popularity as
a tourist attraction in the 60s and 70s.

For those who don’t know, located in India, Goa has been on the world
stage since the pre-Christian era, first documented by the Summerians
around 2200 BC. It has been recognized as a fertile paradise by
everyone who has been there since.

In more recent history, Goa was colonized by the Portuguese for 400
years until the 1960s. This creates and interesting cultural mélange.
The population is now 30 percent Catholic, 65 percent Hindu and 5
percent Muslim. The cuisine and cultural traditions are a complimentary
mix of Asian and European.

The Portuguese were expelled from Goa in 1961 when India “reclaimed”
her. It is precisely this point in history, the pivotal generation that
experienced Goa’s return to India first hand, that the author explores.

Our main character, Linda, is a simply-drawn Catholic village girl of
the shudra caste. Battling caste discrimination with a stunning
intellect, and a childhood of good fortune, Linda is the first in her
family to receive a high-level education.

The book chronicles Linda’s trials and tribulations as a woman, a
shudra, and a Catholic educated in Portuguese just as the
English-language-dominated Indian government takes over her homeland.
She travels through Europe, ending up in Toronto, Canada.

Having fathered a child by a Portuguese diplomat, from whom she is
accidentally separated during the turmoil surrounding Goa’s transition
to Indian rule, Linda’s story is the notable personal conflict in the
novel.

The details of this conflict are described rather mechanically and
superficially. The emotions likely associated with the painful events
surrounding the adoption of Linda’s child, and the emotions of the
child herself are suspiciously shallow. Indeed, the characters seem
unbelievably innocent after all they have been through. The likely
consequences of their suffering are left unexplored, and the prose is
simplistic.

It seems as if the characters serve merely to explore Catholic Goa’s
history and unique culture – a feat the author accomplishes very well,
making the country itself the real star of the action. Luckily, the
book is well researched, and Goa’s history is sufficiently interesting,
making The Sixth Night a worthwhile read for history lovers and travel
junkies.

For a look at “The Sixth Night” web-site visit
http://ca.geocities.com/goaraj@rogers.com. The descriptions of Goa’s
geographical beauty, pristine village life, and fantastic food, food
and more food, will make you want to visit. Luckily the government of
Goa’s tourism site is really fantastic, and includes recipes for all
the food carefully described in “The Sixth Night”.

—————————————————————————-
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The writer Zoe Ackah is editor of ‘The Epoch Times’,
a Canadian publication, where this review was published.

GOANET READER WELCOMES contributions from its readers, by way of essays,
reviews, features and think-pieces. We share quality Goa-related writing
among the growing readership of Goanet and it’s allied network of mailing
lists. If you appreciate the above article, please send in your feedback to
the writer. Our writers write — or share what they have written — pro
bono, and deserve hearing back from those who appreciate their work. Goanet
Reader too welcomes your feedback at feedback@goanet.org Goanet Reader is
edited by Frederick Noronha <fred@bytesforall.org>

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