Black Midas in Moscow - Conversations with Jan Carew

Black Midas in Moscow

Conversations with Jan Carew
Joy Gleason Carew

Guyanese author Jan Carew is best known for his 1958 novel Black Midas. In 1964, Carew also published one of his most controversial books, Moscow Is Not My Mecca (US edition, Green Winter [1965]). And, as he learned much later, an unauthorized version of his book was circulated around the African continent as an “English language reader.” Carew’s novel was based on the stories of his cousin and other students from the Caribbean and Africa who had accepted scholarships to study in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Carew also drew on his own experiences as one of the first students from the English-speaking Caribbean to receive a scholarship to the Eastern Bloc countries when he went to Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s; and later, when he made two visits to the Soviet Union in the 1960s as a guest of the Soviet Writers’ Union. Following the publication of Moscow Is Not My Mecca, Carew was challenged by the Left and lauded by the Right, as each side tried to interpret his work from their often dogmatic and simplistic formulations. Carew, on the other hand, was exploring a complex set of relationships, which did not and still do not lend themselves to simple either/or divisions. Recognizing the potential of the Soviet experiment to provide much-needed support for the newly developing societies, Carew also felt he had a right to critique problems as he saw them and to call for reform.

Jan Carew is now ninety-one and in the process of writing his memoirs. This interview, conducted in Louisville, Kentucky, in July 2011, recounts aspects of his experiences as a student in Prague and, later, as a visitor to the Soviet Union, and his rising concern about the treatment of black students there...[More]

To read the complete interview, go to SX Salon

For commentary on this interview and the Carews see Ourstorian

Democracy Now Interview With Jan Carew on History of US Intervention in Ghana

History of U.S. Intervention in Ghana’s Domestic Affairs

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Ghana used to be on the lips of people worldwide for a much different reason. In the 1950s and 1960s, Ghana was one of the leaders of the worldwide anti-colonial movement. In 1957, it was the first sub-Saharan African country to win independence. Their first president — Kwame Nkrumah — became a leader of international stature, advocating African economic and political unity and non-alignment internationally. Those policies earned him the wrath of Washington and Nkrumah was ousted in a CIA coup in 1966.
  • Jan Carew, Emeritus Professor of African American and Third World Studies at Northwestern University. He lived and worked in Ghana before the 1966 overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah. He edited the monthly publication African Review and wrote an analysis of the coup called RA Season of Violent Change. He is the author of ??Ghosts in Our Blood: Conversations with Malcolm X in England, Africa and the Caribbean published by Lawrence Hill Books.