Saturday, April 04, 2009

RIP Janet Jagan

Janet Jagan, ex-president of Guyana, died last week. RIP, Janet!

I am her designated biographer. What a great story she has!

Picture this. A prettty and popular and athletic Jewish girl from Chicago. Qualifies for the Olympics in swimming, takes secret flying lessons, studies nursing.

Meets a handsome, swarthy and passionate young dentistry student of Indian descent from a country she's never heard of. They fall in love. Her father threatens to shoot him on sight, her grandmother has a heart attack, but marry him she does and follows him back to his homeland in South America armed with several copies of the Little Lenin Library.

Meets the inlaws, labourers on a sugar plantation who have scrimped and saved to give the eldest son an education.

Cheddi, her husband, opens a dental practice and she works with him as an assistant, but their true passion is politics, and soon they are shoulder-deep in their life work.

The rest is history.

Long story short: Janet Jagan was elected President of Guyana in 1996, the climax of an amazing life dedicated to a people who at first rejected her for being a "white foreigner" and who now called her Ma. Janet has spent her life working untiringly for the Guyanese people: putting her life and safety at risk, spending time in jail, facing the wrath of John F. Kennedy, breaking down barriers of gender and race.

My father spent much of his life working for the Jagans, so I know them personally. In between all her political activities Janet has written and published several children's books. She loved my novels and put me forward for the Guyana Prize for Literature in 2004, but unfortunately I was a German citizen and ineligible.
 Here we are at a reading I gave in Guyana, 2004:

From her Guardian obituary:
"The death of Janet Jagan, who has died aged 88, closes a remarkable and controversial career in Guyanese and postwar anti-imperialist politics, within which she was a central figure from 1946 until her death. She became president in succession to her husband Cheddi Jagan in 1997 and along the way she acquired as many supporters as enemies."


Dorset Girl said...

Just wondered have you tried querying Heather Godwin of David Godwin Associates with your work? She represents many writers and has a special interest in Asian stories.

Their website is:

Just a thought - I've heard she is friendly, quick to read and very professional.

Kiskadee said...

Thank you for the tip!! No, I have not tried her, but I will certainly check her out and maybe submit!

nishith said...

Dear Aruna,
How are you?
Happy new year!
Can you please tell me about how to query WMA for a novel 80,000 words written in an Indian backdrop?

Any emails? Who is the preferred agent?
thank you

Nishith singh, MD

Isabel said...

Hi Sharon,

I read your 3 books shortly after they were published and absolutely loved them!

I check your website every once in a while to see if any new books are in the works... Today I came across your blog and read it in one sitting! Your story is a real insight - a real eye-opener - into the world of publishing. I found it very touching. I felt I was there with you - cheering when everything went right and hoping and praying when things were not going as planned... Your other book projects sounded fascinating... I would have loved to read them.

I admire your decision to stay true to yourself and to your writing.

I have always meant to drop you a line via your website to tell you how much I loved your books. Now that I have stumbled on your blog today I must get in touch.

Best wishes!

Kiskadee said...

Thanks so much Isabel! I've read a bit of your blog and it is most interesting.