Literature about the Caribbean

Ed Cumming of London’s Telegraph answers a reader’s query about which books would be a good place to start for Caribbean literature with a predictable if disappointing answer. Time to bring newer books to critics’ attention?


To many the Caribbean is just an excellent holiday destination, but actually it is a uniquely rich cultural mix; a collision of South American, European, African and latterly North American influences. A whole genre of literature has sprung from the area, but a few books stand out. For an introduction to the experience, try Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, a damning indictment of the colonial legacy left in Antigua. For a more slanted look at the experience, the Socialist writer CLR James’ Beyond a Boundary, as well as a fine piece of writing about cricket, is also a unique examination of life growing up in Trinidad in the early part of the 20th century. Finally no portrait would be complete without VS Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas an elegant, crystal-clear novel based on the life of the author’s father.

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