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Article by Marie Gregory

January 14th, 2010
Fishing to raise ‘The
Village Curtain’
When Kingstonian Tony
Tame began to write
“The Village Curtain”
he had specific ideas as to what
he hoped to achieve.
The first aim was “to
examine a specific segment of
West Indian – and in particular
Jamaican – society’s use of culturally
unique survival techniques
and the private atmosphere
which tends to be produced
within small Caribbean
fishing communities”.
The second intention was
“that readers will enjoy experiencing
the sharp contrast
between appearance and reality
in what seems so picturesque and idyllic a place as the West
Indies where the outcome of
the best charitable, official and
efforts is
always uncertain
at best”.
Curtain” is
described on
the cover as
“A Jamaican
That is, perhaps,
somewhat misleading.
I expected
a collection of
short stories.
True, the stories
are there, full of
vignettes and characters who
appear and reappear. Yet the
framework is more that of a
novel. The action needs to be
followed chronologically.There is no obvious human
hero. The story deals with the
sea, survival and the village
Tame has spent a lifetime
in the marine industry. He
admits that he has never earned
a cent that has not come from
his dealings with the sea. The
first chapter and references
throughout point to fishing -
reading the weather, even dynamiting
the coral reefs – testimony
to his intimate knowledge.
He is fascinated by the various
methods used in fishing, sympathetic
to the plight of those who
eke out survival in that uncertain
Characters in the book are
treated with understanding.
The human spirit is strong, as
illustrated over and over
whether through Sonia, the visiting
American who falls in
love with the Black River area
and wants to develop tourism;
Mikey, who survives a Florida
prison and almost loses his life
at sea; or Leo, who dynamites
the reef and loses an arm yet is
able to continue with an adapted method.
The hardships bind communities
together, watched
over by village elder “Mr.
James”, a ganja grower, who
dispenses white rum liberally,
yet sticks to coconut water
himself. The homespun wisdom
of the man allows him to
deal with people at all levels -
politicians, charity workers,
visitors and police – advising
quietly, carrying on his own
activities, ever hospitable yet
never lifting the village curtain
more than a few inches.
Social commentary is scattered
throughout. We hear of
the young officer from
Kingston explaining basic seamanship
to the men of the village
who had fished the Pedro
Banks since they
were 10 years old,
and the
Englishman who
comes to the
Police Force as
deputy commissioner
telling the
press that he has
not come to
solve crime.
Finally, there is
the “Charity
Man”, so called
by “Mr.
James”. Here
is the disillusioned
sees his projects diverted from
their original intent.
Tame is a master of understatement.
We are allowed glimpses of
lives in the community. The curtain
is never lifted completely.
The final vignette is of the
dog, “a formal sort of dog”,
passing to other owners after
the death of Myra, the love of
his life. Nameless, loyal, knowing,
the dog becomes an alcoholic
after being given rum in
the local bar. The chapter,
which deals with the death and
burial of the animal, is touching.
As the story closes and
“Sonia”, about to return to her
homeland, looks at “Mr. James”
and sees the veil of his eyes, the
moment of truth teaches her “it’s
not a veil, it’s a curtain. Curtain,
hell. It’s a wall”.
Tame says: “I hope that I
have been at least partially successful at bringing the smell
of the salt spray at daybreak
and rage of the hurricane into
the general atmosphere of this
book as well as the tranquil
sound of a quiet, rainy night”.
Mission accomplished.
Marie Gregory is a freelance
writer for Caribbean Today.
The book is available through

Caribbean Today December, 2009

Jamaica Observer writes article about “The Village Curtain”

December 10th, 2009
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About the author

October 5th, 2009

Born in 1943, Tony Tame has been associated with the marine industry in Jamaica since the mid 1960’s. After 1970 he became directly involved in the supply and service of equipment to the commercial fishing industry in Jamaica. His lifelong interest has been the methods used in various types of fishing and the people who work in this field. Still active in this field his fascination with these topics is undiminished.

He lives in Kingston, Jamaica with his devoted wife of thirty-nine years, Jennifer. Jennifer is Tony’s business manager. They have two children, a son Sean who helps to run the family owned company and a daughter Stephanie who is a senior lecturer in the Linguistics Department of the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Tony Tame “Central”

September 20th, 2009

I sincerely think that my novel, The Village Curtain, examines a specific segment of West Indian, and particularly the Jamaican society’s, use of survival techniques and private culture which exists within some small Caribbean fishing communities. A genuine attempt is made to present these imaginary inhabitants of a non existent village using the most accurate possible descriptions of weather and geography. This is designed to create an atmosphere of deceptive reality.

I hope that an appreciation of the extreme difference between appearance and reality is achieved in what may be seen superficially as a picturesque and idyllic place. The uncertain outcome of charitable, official and bureaucratic solutions in that milieu is a recurring theme in the stories.

The intended audience is readers of modern fiction, general readers and perhaps undergraduate and graduate students interested in the culture of the West Indies.

My biography may appear to be simple at first look; however, I have been associated with the commercial fishing industry for over forty years. Born in Kingston in 1943, I have been engaged with marine sales, repair and marketing since the mid 1960’s. After 1970, I became directly involved in the supply and service of equipment to the commercial fishing industry in Jamaica. My lifelong interest has been the methods used in various types of fishing and the people who work in this field. All the stories in The Village Curtain have authentic origins. I am still active in this field and my fascination with the people and the industry is undiminished.

The collection has been presented in a style where dark humor, secret deeds and bright sunlight compete for attention.

The Village Curtain

September 20th, 2009