Down in Demerara
'Wonderfully funny...I laughed aloud a lot.' Fay Weldon
Felix Radstock is plucked from his humdrum job and dispatched to the forbidden rainforest of Guyana on a mysterious assignment. Only later does he discover the true purpose of his mission.
Set in 1999, Down in Demerara is a funny, charming and quirky tale of self-realisation through love, friendship and fear.
'Mike Manson’s ‘Down in Demerara’ is storytelling at its best.' Kaieteur News.
Photo: Kaieteur Falls, Guyana.
Interview with the author
Why did you write Down in Demerara?
If I had to sum up the story in a sentence I’d say it’s a quirky road trip, set in Guyana, leading to self-realisation through love, friendship and fear. But that makes it sound way too serious. It’s a bit of a romp with some serious stuff thrown in.
I started writing the book as what Graham Greene called ‘an entertainment’. But as I got into the story I realised there were a number of issues that I couldn’t ignore. It still is an entertainment, but the reader will hopefully come away with thoughts about the effect of globalisation on smaller countries in the world.
What research did you do?
I’d been to Guyana on a rather strange and abortive mission in 1999. I then went back a couple of years ago to check facts and do further research. It was real Bear Grylls stuff. I slept in the jungle in a hammock. The night time noise was fantastic! I knew I wasn’t going to get much sleep so I lay awake trying to identify what was making this racket – wild dogs, howler monkeys, tree frogs, cicadas. The scariest bit was when I went to the drop toilet and a vampire bat flew out of it. Oh, and the giant spiders, the size of your hand. Actually, it’s helped my arachnophobia – British house spiders look like gnats after those beasts.
Most people don’t know where it is! They think it’s in Africa. Guyana is the only English speaking country in South America and is one of the few places that is still off the beaten track. It’s difficult to get to and once you’re there, there’s just one reliable main road along the coast. If you want to go inland you have to fly by light aircraft. Inland is rainforest and there’s also a patch of savannah. Like Africa without elephants and lions. There’s some spectacular scenery. The Kaieteur Falls has the highest single drop of water in the world.
Author Photo: Paul Bullivant
Mike Manson is the author of Where’s My Money? (Tangent) chosen by BBC TV as one of their Books that Made Britain.
Mike Manson ran his own labour market research company but now concentrates on writing. He is the author of four history books, published by small Bristol presses, and two novels successfully published by Tangent Books.
He was an editor of the Bristol Review of Books (2006 -2013); chair of the judges of the Bristol Short Story Prize (2009, 2010); and is one of the organisers of the Bristol Festival of Literature.
He’s also the initiator of the legendary (in Bristol, at least) ShedFest, probably the world’s smallest literary festival in a shed.
Interview about Mike's writing career.
Interview about writing humour, Guyana and Down in Demerara.
Review by Judy Darley.
Review in Kaieteur News.
11 October 2018. Pre-publication launch party:
Waterstones, Union Street, Bristol.
22 October 2018. 'Writing Travel Fact and Travel Fiction'. Bristol Festival of Literature.
2 November 2018. Down in Demerara publication date.
28 February 2019. Star & Crescent Bookfest, Portsmouth present...Witnessing the World: Reportage, Creative Nonfiction and Fiction Based on Real Events.
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Book cover design: Sue Gent
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