Curaçaoan Writers Featured at Havana’s International Book Fair

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As a follow-up on our recent posts Dutch Caribbean Makes Impact on Literature Festival in Havana and 26th International Book Fair in Havana, here is more information on the participants in one of Book Fair sessions, which was moderated by Cuban scholar Emilio Jorge Rodríguez. The fair took place from February 9 to 19 in Havana, Cuba. Rodríguez introduced Curaçaoan writers Diana Lebacs, Loekie Morales (Lucrecia Morales), and Roel Jungslager (Leo Regals), who spoke about their writing. This was an important session because writers from the Dutch Caribbean are not often included when discussing Caribbean literature in regional or international book fairs. Here is a summary of these authors’ works:

Diana Lebacs is a Curaçaoan novelist, storyteller, actress, playwright, and stage director. She obtained her Masters of Education in Papiamento at the University of the Netherlands Antilles (now, University of Curaçao). She received the Zilveren Griffel for her children’s book Nancho van Bonaire (1976). She was awarded the Culture prize for Youth literature of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba for Caimins Geheim in 2003, and in 2007, she was awarded the Order of Oranje-Nassau for the same work. In 1994 she published her first adult novel: De langste maand, which addresses drug addiction and unemployment in Curaçao. Her many other publications include Sherry -het begin van een begin, Buchi Wan pia fini, Unda Olivier ta / Waar is Olivier? In addition to participating in book fairs, talks and storytelling workshops, she has been committed to community projects, including those dedicated to fighting violence against women and protecting the environment.

Loekie Morales was born in Curaçao; she studied and worked as a geography and history teacher in Holland for many years. She completed a Masters in Environmental Geography at the University of Nijmegen and she presently holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences. After leading several projects on the environment and spatial planning, she moved to St. Maarten/St. Martin in 2000. She has since worked as a manager of several development projects in the fields of Attention to Monuments and Social Development. She currently leads sustainable development projects in collaboration with the United Nations. In 2003, she founded the Beyond Writing Foundation, of which she is president. Specializing in youth literature, Morales has published 9 books; among them, Overseas Bloodline, Papito and the Story Telling TreeSelina and the Obeah Woman, Tropical Nest (Tropisch Nestje), Magic Wedding Cake, Mina Marina, and Freckles (Zonnesproetjes).

As director of Beyond Kultura Events Foundation, she has been active in the creation and implementation of activities such as Children’s Night and the innovative Caribbean Living Statues Festival in St. Martin, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. Morales introduced the “Living Statues” project, in which children and adults are “painted with a Caribbean theme, simultaneously showcasing talent in body-painting and acting.

Roel Jungslager (Leo Regals) was born in Amsterdam but was raised in Curaçao. He went back to Holland as a teenager to pursue a degree in education and returned to Curaçao at age 26 to teach children of low income families. He quickly understood that there was a need for more books for children, which inspired his career as a writer. He has published over25 titles, including the Henco series—De avonturen van Henco; Henco, de grote schoonmaak; Henco ruimt op; and Henco in de natuurHet gidsje van HaïtiPiki mi wiriwiri, and a series of books in Spanish—Lazarito, un muchacho de Cuba.

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