The Dragon Can't Dance

Published by Faber on 19th January 1998

Calvary Hill – poverty stricken, pot-holed and garbage-strewn, where the slum shacks ‘leap out of the red dirt and stone, thin like smoke, fragile like kite paper, balancing on their rickety pillars as broomsticks on the edge of a juggler’s nose’ – is the home of Aldrink Prospect, who lives for the Carnival and his once-a-year chance to play dragon.

After his involvement in a riot which goes badly wrong and his subsequent imprisonment, Aldrink returns to Calvary Hill to find himself a defeated warrior from a band of rebels who have long ago made peace with the enemy. He longs for the feeling that was in him when he played dragon, but his new sadness forces him to renounce the role and its sentiment that ‘all o’ we is one.’

The Dragon Can't Dance is a remarkable canvas of shanty-town life, a Caribbean classic in which Lovelace’s intimate knowledge of rural Trinidad and the Carnival as a sustaining cultural tradition are brilliantly brought to life.

A new edition of The Dragon Can't Dance was published by Faber on 17 August 2023 as part of their Caribbean Writers Series.