New Book—“Phonographic Memories: Popular Music and the Contemporary Caribbean Novel”


Njelle W. Hamilton’s Phonographic Memories: Popular Music and the Contemporary Caribbean Novel (May 2019) is now available for pre-ordering at Rutgers University Press.

Julie Huntington (author of Sounding Off:  Rhythm, Music, and Identity in West African and Caribbean Francophone Novels) calls Phonographic Memories “a resonant and remarkable contribution to the fields of Caribbean studies and literary sound studies,” that “interweaves critical insights from neuropsychology, ethnomusicology, and literary studies with meticulous close-reading and close-listening analyses of musical styles, performance, genres, and recording technologies in a multiplicity of Caribbean contexts.”

Description: Phonographic Memories is the first book to perform a sustained analysis of the narrative and thematic influence of Caribbean popular music on the Caribbean novel. Tracing a region-wide attention to the deep connections between music and memory in the work of Lawrence Scott, Oscar Hijuelos, Colin Channer, Daniel Maximin, and Ramabai Espinet, Njelle Hamilton tunes in to each novel’s soundtrack while considering the broader listening cultures that sustain collective memory and situate Caribbean subjects in specific localities. These “musical fictions” depict Caribbean people turning to calypso, bolero, reggae, gwoka, and dub to record, retrieve, and replay personal and cultural memories.

Offering a fresh perspective on musical nationalism and nostalgic memory in the era of globalization, Phonographic Memories affirms the continued importance of Caribbean music in providing contemporary novelists ethical narrative models for sounding marginalized memories and voices.

Check out Njelle W. Hamilton’s Spotify playlist to accompany Phonotgraphic Memories: (courtesy of Rutgers University Press).

Njelle W. Hamilton is an assistant professor in the departments of English and African-American and African studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

For more information, go to


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