Trinidad and Tobago Consul General Michael Lashley spoke to a group of Caribbean nationals at the Grenada Consulate General in Toronto during the launch of White Frock & Coals Dust: the Story of a Community Called the Wharf. It was the third in a series of planned book launches, following similar events in Grenada in August and in New York in early September. Written by Toronto-based Grenadian journalist Lincoln Toro Depradine, White Frock & Coals Dust is primarily the story of ordinary men and women who gave meaning to their lives through sports, culture, and community gatherings. The main setting of the book is the Carenage community in the Grenadian capital, St. George’s but the author explains that “there is a connectivity of characters and incidents that reaches nationally, regionally and internationally– as far the Mau-Mau Movement in Kenya.’’
Lashley stressed that “This is not a Grenadian story. This is our story,” emphasizing the points of connection and identification among Caribbean cultures. Lashley, a former Trinidad teacher, said the books looks at a “range of our stories’’ – social, political and cultural. “But embedded there,’’ he added, “are the linkages between all those various aspects of our existence. And it is that subtext that you feel as you read through something to which you can relate.” He emphasized the need for more books celebrating Caribbean experience. Other speakers at the launch, for example, Jamaican-Canadian concert promoter Allan Jones and journalist Jules Elder, embraced the book as being more than just Grenadian literature.
Cultural historian and lawyer Caldwell Taylor, a former Grenada ambassador to the United Nations reveals that in this novel, “a steel band ‘converted’ a priest, blackening his white frock with coal dust and transforming a ‘Father’ into a favorite son.” Caldwell, who wrote the foreword to the book, sees the book as a very important continuation of a strong Caribbean literary tradition and movement. He describes it as “both a triumph of narrative and a rich source of social history.”
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For more information on White Frock & Coals Dust see http://mayaroimprint.com/home.htm