Ebony magazine’s Kristin Braswell recently featured the Calabash Literary Festival, describing the history of the festival and its spectacular setting in Treasure Beach, which she depicts as “untouched and almost defiant in its beauty.” Braswell also highlights six Caribbean writers not to be missed; here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:
Here are six Caribbean writers you should take some time to discover:
1. Mervyn Morris (above left): Many may be familiar with Morris’ work, especially considering this year he was named Jamaica’s first Poet Laureate since the country’s independence in 1962, but, for those who don’t, learning more about Morris’ writing is sure to be a fulfilling discovery. The Jamaican native is a Poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at University of the West Indies, Mona. A mentor to many Caribbean poets, Morris’ works include The Pond, and I Been There, Sort Of. He is a master of evoking personal memories with wit and sentimentality. [. . .]
2. Beverly East (above right): East has many titles under her belt in addition to writer, including graphologist and forensic examiner. Her latest novel, Bat Mitzvah Girl – Memories of a Jamaican Child, chronicles her life in London, where she was raised by her biological parents and by extension four Jewish women who lived next door that she called her aunties. [. . .]
3. Ann-Margaret Lim: Lim’s name is sure to be one that gains more attention in the coming years. The Jamaican poet’s debut book, The Festival of Wild Orchid, explores the contradictions and beauty of Jamaica’s history and landscape. In the poem Kingston Blues, she writes, “The Cactus bites and Trench Town is what it was; a place where children know how to starve and women how to weep.” It is the same empathy towards the plight of many that echoes throughout her work.
4. Andrea Stuart: Writer Andrea Stuart’s prose rings with such detail that you can almost smell the sugar she recalls on her grandfather’s plantation seep from the pages. In her memoir Sugar in the Blood, she recalls her mother’s earliest memory is of “being put on a blanket … placed adjacent to the fields and being given ‘fingers’ of newly cut cane to suck.” Her account of the history of sugar and the slave trade in her native Barbados is palpable and fastidiously researched. Her first book, Showgirls, a collective biography of showgirls, was adapted into a two-part documentary for the Discovery Channel in 1998. Her second book, The Rose of Martinique: A Biography of Napoleon’s Josephine won the Enid McLeod Literary Prize in 2004. [. . .]
5. Roland Watson-Grant: It was during Grant’s reading at Calabash of “Off the Island,” a short story about envy and epiphanies that I recalled how prose could both sting and elate all at once. Grant’s debut novel, Sketcher, tells the story of a nine-year-old “Skid” Beaumont and his family, who have relocated from the Caribbean to the swamps of Louisiana after his father has a drunken revelation. Magic is a central theme in the novel. Of the story, Watson-Grant said, “Sketcher is what I call my ‘magicalogical’ novel. [. . .]
6. Tiphanie Yanique: Author of the critically acclaimed short story collection, How to Escape from a Leper Colony, the USVI native is also the author of a children’s picture book, I Am the Virgin Islands. Currently an assistant professor of writing at The New School in New York, her novel The Land of Love and Drowning will be released in July by Riverhead Books.