Set in the nineteenth century, The Counting House narrates the experiences of an Indian couple, Rohinia and Vidia, growing up and getting married in a small Indian village before setting off for a new life in colonial Guyana, seduced by tales of the promised land and the riches they will find there. However, instead of fertile fields and instant wealth they find they have been sold into slavery. Having abandoned their families, their culture, and a country that seems increasingly like a paradise, Rohini and Vidia learn how to live with themselves, whose hopes end in tragedy. The story illuminates historical tensions between indentured Indian workers and Guyanese of African descent.
David Dabydeen was born on a sugar estate in Berbice, Guyana in 1957. His family lived for a time in New Amsterdam where he attended school. He recalls moving back to his family village, Brighton, during the 1964 race riots. At the age of around ten he won a scholarship to Queen's College in Georgetown where he studied for a couple of years. He was sent to England at the age of twelve in 1969 and was in care until he was sixteen. He won a scholarship to Cambridge University and read English there and at London Universities, completing his doctorate in 1982. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Oxford University for three years. He is currently Professor at the Centre for Caribbean Studies, University of Warwick and was for some years a roving ambassador for Guyana.