A report from Jamaica’s Gleaner.
The 2016 Miami International Book Fair will feature a record number of Jamaican authors. The massive festival will have a strong Jamaican flavour this year, including a panel focused on contemporary Jamaican writing named ‘Reading Jamaica: Fresh Poetry and Prose’.
The panel, set for Saturday, November 19, at 4:30 p.m., features a strong array of writers. It was organised by the book promotions NGO ReadJamaica and is set to be one of the riveting moments of the fair.
Poet Tanya Shirley has been described as a poet who captures the exuberance, passion and brokenness of contemporary Jamaica. Her acclaimed sophomore collection, Merchant of Feathers, was longlisted for the 2015 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Well-respected and celebrated poet and novelist Geoffrey Philp will be sharing his highly anticipated collection of poetry, Letter from Marcus Garvey, with the audience.
Two award-winning novelists will round out the panel. Garfield Ellis was the first recipient of the Una Marson Award for Literature, a prize for which his touching, humourous and most recent novel The Angel’s Share was shortlisted. The final author on the panel, A-dZiko Simba Gegele won the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature (2014) with her novel All Over Again. The hilarious novel was also longlisted in the 2015 International Impac Dublin Award.
“It feels like a real honour to participate in this massive event with such a diverse group of authors and such a diverse audience,” said Simba Gegele.
In addition to her participation on the ReadJamaica panel, Simba Gegele is one of three writers from the English-speaking Caribbean reading to young adult audiences. Simba Gegele and fellow Burt Award winner Guyana’s Imam Baksh (Children of the Spider) are on the impressive roster of children and YA authors reading on Sunday, November 20, 2016 (at 3:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively).
Along with its presence at the fair, ReadJamaica will also be engaging in a targeted engagement of the Jamaican diaspora though a ‘book party’ hosted by the Consul General to Jamaica. This year’s staging of the annual book party will be held on Thursday, November 17, at the Consul General’s offices in downtown Miami.
The book party will also feature readings by Shirley, Philp and Simba Gegele as well as children’s author Hope Barnett. Barnett’s debut novel No Girl Like Amanda, won the BIAJ National Book Award for best chapter book (2013).
The Miami International Book Fair opens on Sunday, November 13, with the main street fair and most readings taking place Friday, November 18 to Sunday, November 20. ReadJamaica will also host a tent at the street fair selling books from several Jamaican writers and publishers.