Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Caribbean writers, past and present

A lot of people, including the tourists who visit the Caribbean region, don't know much about our literary tradition so, today, I'm continuing with my occasional series on our writers.

First up, Paule Marshall.  Marshall was born in the United States to Barbadian parents in 1929 and grew up to undertake a literary tour with Langston Hughes.  Her novels explore themes of belonging, migration, the search for identity and the role of women in society.  She has been a MacArthur Fellow and the winner of the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.  The Chosen Place, The Timeless People and Brown Girl, Brownstones are two of my favourite works by her.

The Chosen Place, The Timeless People

Samuel Selvon, Trinidadian, was born in 1923 and died in 1994.  His book, Ways of Sunlight, was required reading when I was in high school but it was when I was grown that I read The Lonely Londoners and cracked up laughing at the things some of his West Indian characters got up to in London.  I found Selvon's depiction of black women troubling but his stories are classic portrayals of the struggles of West Indians in London in the 1950s and 1960s when violent attacks on blacks and subsequent riots were not uncommon.

Born in 1938, Rosario Ferre is a Puerto Rican born author who writes poetry and essays as well as novels.  Her first collection of short stories was published in 1976.  She is a professor at the University of Puerto Rico and has been a visiting professor at Rutgers University and John Hopkins University.  I've read both Sweet Diamond Dust (a collection of stories) and The House on the Lagoon which is a stirring story about a woman's interpretation of her family history and the history of the island.

The House on the Lagoon

I hope you'll check out some of these authors!  Enjoy!

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