DiscoverLGBTQ Non-Fiction

The Undiscovered Country


Must read 🏆

Bagoo's sharp eye for the world around him, wit and way with words will make you want to stand up and cheer!

I thoroughly enjoyed this smart, thoughtful yet unguarded and readable essay collection by Trinidadian writer and poet Andre Bagoo. Like the title, which suggests every possibility (is it about Star Trek? Tom Stoppard? Hamlet?)

he considers and explores varied and eclectic ideas in each essay and chapter, writing about everything from the uniqueness of life in a city confined to an island, to world history, regional politics, colonialism - all told from a fresh perspective. Bagoo's essays are like looking at the world through (I delete the obvious cliche here) a fresh perspective and unique eye, offering one surprise after another: Shakespeare, Merchant Ivory, Eric Williams, Naipaul, corn pone.

Bagoo's writing is not just sorrel mojitos and cornpone, but there is always the thrill of what might be on the next page. Art? Music? Prostitution? These essays ask as much as they tell. He had me searching for Naipaul stories, and wondering where I left my old Schumann CDs and Merchant Ivory DVDs. He can go from cheeky to critical, especially on Trinidad's domestic issues, foreign policy, migration and diaspora, with flourishes that warrant highlighting - "we leave it as much as we love it".

While the nations and territories of the Caribbean have made remarkable progress in recent decades to decriminalise homosexuality, homophobia in the region is still as commonplace as it is acceptable. Writing apologetically as a gay man in Trinidad is itself a brave act; Bagoo charges into this territory fearlessly in one piece that disambiguates homosexuality and paedophilia (I couldn't help but think it might be for readers not unlike the aunt who discouraged a young Andre from singing in a choir or overeating) explores Naipaul's possible childhood sexual abuse and the connection between his legendary cantankerous disposition childhood trauma. In a region that seems to elevate Naipaul to near-deity status in spite of his reputation for cruelty and misogyny, where it is not uncommon for some to connect homosexuality and paedophilia with a direct line, Bagoo's clarity made me want to stand up and cheer.

I had to go back and read 'The Secret Life of a Dyslexic Critic' a third time before completing this review. You will too if you have ever fought distraction while trying to sit still, concentrate and write. Bagoo combines world affairs with his own coming out (as dyslexic) like a good conversation peppered with wit and confessions. If you are studying or even interested in the Caribbean, its cultures or social issues, you should read this collection. A professional reviewer would probably refer to it as a slim volume filled with insight. I can't say how thin, reading it on a Kindle and I'm not a professional, but it's stuffed with humour, insight, wit and wisdom -- and you will find a whole world contained inside!

Reviewed by

Antonio Arch was born in Kingston, Jamaica and grew up in Grand Cayman. After studies at Bishop's and McGill Universities, he spent two decades in Public Relations creating content and copy across media, industry and the creative arts. In 2019 he completed an MFA at the Manchester Writing School.


About the author

Andre Bagoo is a Trinidadian poet and writer, the author of four books of poetry. His essay collection, The Undiscovered Country, is published by Peepal Tree Press. view profile

Published on August 20, 2020

Published by Peepal Tree Press

70000 words

Genre: LGBTQ Non-Fiction

Reviewed by