I became obsessed with Caribbean authors a few years ago when I picked up a copy of Marlon James’ John Crow’s Devil. If books are like drugs (and for many they are) then James’ work was the gateway to a literary world that was more than the books we were forced to read for literature classes in Secondary school. Caribbean writers? Contemporary ones? That spit dialect like the mother tongue and didn’t leave you feeling you’ve read a local interpretation of a foreign work?? I was in heaven! So what DO you do when looking for a really good book to satisfy your literary eccentricities? You check out my list below.
Untwine- Edwidge Danticat (Haiti)
A haunting and mesmerizing story about sisterhood, family, love, and loss by literary luminary Edwidge Danticat. Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless. – Amazon
Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world.
Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.
With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.- Amazon
In this radiant, highly anticipated debut novel, a cast of unforgettable women battle for independence while a maelstrom of change threatens their Jamaican community. Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman — fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves — must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer,Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise. – nicoledennisbenn.com
Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything. So when her great-nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear through her. While they wait for his mama to come home from work, Ma Taffy recalls the story of the flying preacherman and a great thing that did not happen. A poor suburban sprawl in the Jamaican heartland, Augustown is a place where many things that should happen don’t, and plenty of things that shouldn’t happen do. For the story of Kaia leads back to another momentous day in Jamaican history, the birth of the Rastafari and the desire for a better life. – Goodreads
The Repenters- Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad & Tobago)
When the infant Jordon Sant is taken to the St Asteria Home for Children after the murder of his parents, he sets out on a journey that is a constant struggle between his best and worst selves. One relationship, with the young nun the children call Mouse, awakens the possibilities of love and hope, but when Mouse abandons her calling and leaves the home, the world thereafter becomes a darker place. Barely a teenager, he runs away from the home to scuffle for a living in the frightening underbelly of Port of Spain. There Jordon reaches the lower depths of both Trinidadian society and himself.- Peepal Press
When Michael (Digger) Digson is recruited into DS Chilman’s new plain clothes squad in the small Caribbean island of Camaho he brings his own mission to discover who amongst a renegade police squad killed his mother in a political demonstration. Sent to London to train in forensics, Digger becomes enmeshed in Chilman’s obsession with a cold case – the disappearance of a young man whose mother is sure he has been murdered. But along with his new skill in forensics, Digger makes rich use of the cultural knowledge he has gained from the Fire Baptist grandmother who brought him up, another kind of reader of bones. And when the enigmatic Miss K. Stanislaus, another of Chilman’s recruits, joins him on the case, Digger finds that his science is more than outmatched by her observational skills. Together, they find themselves dragged into a world of secrets, disappearances and danger that demands every ounce of their brains, persistence and courage to survive. – Peepal Press
Water With Berries- George Lamming (Barbados)
Teeton, a Caribbean artist, lives multiple lives in England. One is with a bohemian group of artist exiles, like his friend Derek the actor who has sunk to playing a corpse on stage, and the musician, Roger Capildeo, a Naipaulian figure who denies the point of any kind of political involvement.There is also Teeton’s curiously intimate relationship with his English landlady, whom he calls the Dowager. Finally, as a revolutionary from the Caribbean island of San Cristobal, Teeton is enmeshed in a secret conspiracy and is planning to return to return to his island to participate in an uprising . Thus far, Teeton has kept each aspect of his life separate from one another, but when the time comes to return home, his once separate worlds begin to fuse together with disastrous results. – Peepal Press
A richly imaginative and warmly human work of historical fiction. Written with subtle psychological insights into a relationship that crosses ages and cultures, and a poet’s perception of the natural beauties of his own island, Tracing Jaja examines the emerging love between an ailing African king in exile and his Barbadian servant Becka. – Peepal Press