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UNDER THE TAMARIND TREE: A NOVEL
REVIEW BY TREV SUE-A-QUAN
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Through their ancestries, Richard and Gloria carry the customs and religious beliefs from five of the six
peoples that constitute the country of Guyana. These diverse tenets lead to decisions by individuals that
are difficult for even their closest loved ones to accept. A child’s wish to change religion brings intolerance
from parents. The mother bearing an out-of-wedlock child is rejected by her family, while the sacredness
of marriage is questioned when a partner feels that true love for an outsider overrules the stigma of
adultery.

Adding to the contradictions among family members, the Cheongs find themselves caught in a greater
conflict arising from the political changes leading to the country’s independence from Britain. The leaders
of the political parties rally support based on racial and economic interests. Their influences result in
some serious racial clashes between the people of African and East Indian heritage, representing the vast
majority of the population. Even friends and family members of the Cheongs are instigators or
perpetrators of violence, as well as being victims. Although standing as outsiders, Britain, as the presiding
colonial power, and the United States, as the regional superpower, bring pressure to influence the
direction that an independent Guyana would take, with determination that it should not become a country
with a communist ideology.  

Through these multiple influences Richard and Gloria Cheong are challenged by both their individual set
of values and the unfolding events that affect their family and business affairs.
Under the Tamarind Tree
weaves an intricate account of human interactions based on a personal, family-based, religious and
national themes and is one with a uniquely Guyanese flavor.







Trev Sue-A-Quan was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and attended Queen’s College. In 1969 he gained his Ph.D.
degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, England. Besides his engineering career, he has
researched historical events related to Chinese immigration to Guyana. Based on his findings he has written three
books describing the history of the Chinese Guyanese, covering their initial arrival as indentured laborers in the mid-
nineteenth century, their adaptation as residents in the new land, and the experiences of their descendants as
migrants to other countries. Trev now resides in Vancouver, Canada.
Learn More: Chinese in Guyana: Their Roots


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Under the Tamarind Tree is a story of outsider influences. Richard Cheong, the
main character, finds himself influenced by attitudes and events beyond his control.
There is an outside child in the family - a boy whose very existence causes a divide
between family members. Some are filled with resentment that this male child could
be receiving financial benefits and privileges that are traditionally retained within a
nuclear family. The animosity among some siblings leads to actions of a
life-threatening nature. Richard himself perpetuates some of the conflicts by
tenuously holding on to the glorious tradition of fathering a son of his own. With this
objective entrenched in his mind, his wife Gloria gives birth to a fourth child but he
dies at childbirth and this results in considerable friction within his family.