Caribbean Writers Challenge 2011 @BaffledBooks

CWC Challenge Link! Click me!Even before a dear friend of mine who runs a funny, tasty cooking blog (over at Can I Have it Like That?) recommended this challenge to me, I’d been feeling the lack of regional literature in my life. I am a Caribbean girl, despite the foreign impressions I might sometimes convey, and I love the words, and word-wielders, of my islands and my region, as surely as I can love good writing, wherever its source.

Lisa and K, who run the engaging book review blog, Baffled Books, seem to feel the same way. I couldn’t agree more with their estimation that “Caribbean writers are notoriously underrepresented even within the Caribbean, with only a small section of local bookstores dedicated to them, few on the school syllabus and the majority of the population having no clue who the supposedly prominent writers, that represent their islands, are.  In the wider world only particular literary groups take much notice and most people, again, are completely unaware that the Caribbean is a hub of literary enthusiasm.” Well said!

I’ll be aiming to complete and review 12 Caribbean books this year, putting me in the advanced category of the challenge. It is a trying task in and of itself to find authors who live and work entirely in the region, so some of the literary works I’ve selected do belong to the Caribbean diaspora collective. I do not think that this tampers with the spirit of the challenge, though – to discover and appreciate writing that is enriched by, and grounded in, a Caribbean sensibility, in regional aesthetics, languages, series of identities, landscapes and forms.

The Challenge Shortlist (in no particular order)

{I will periodically update this list, as the books are read and reviewed.}

1. (Novels) Either Anna In Between or Prospero’s Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez (Trinidadian-N. American)

2. (Short Fiction) Sections of an Orange by Anton Nimblett (Trinidadian-N. American)
{Read and reviewed in April ’11, here.}

3. (Novella/Short Fiction) How to Escape From A Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique (Virgin Islands-N.American)
{Read and reviewed in February ’11, here.}

4. (Novel) Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau (Martiniquan)

5. (Novel) Raise the Lanterns High by Lakshmi Persaud (Trinidadian-British)

6. (Novel) The Year in San Fernando by Michael Anthony (Trinidadian)

7. (Poetry) The Predicament of Or by Shani Mootoo (Trinidadian-Canadian)

8. (Novel) Jonestown by Wilson Harris (Guyanese)

9. (Novels) Any one of the following from Andrea Levy (Jamaican-British): Never Far From Nowhere, Fruit of the Lemon, or Small Island
{‘Fruit of the Lemon’ – read in late January ’11, reviewed in February ’11, here. This review was first featured on Baffled Books.}

10. (Novel) Is Just A Movie by Earl Lovelace (Trinidadian)
{Read in August ’12, reviewed in September ’12, here.}

11. (Novel) No Telephone to Heaven by Michelle Cliff (Jamaican-N.American)

12. (Poetry) Yoruba from Cuba: Selected Poems of Nicolás Guillén (bilingual edition) by Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres (translator) and Nicolás Guillén (Cuba)

Lisa and K have since shelved this challenge, but by all means, sun-kissed, coconut and bullet-dodging, biche-breaking, wine-and-revelry reading, to all.

14 thoughts on “Caribbean Writers Challenge 2011 @BaffledBooks

  1. Almah


    (Nonfiction) Christ on the Rue Jacob – Severo Sarduy (Cuba)

    (Novel) At the Full and Change of the Moon – Dionne Brand (Trinidad/Canada)

    Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles – Thomas Glave, ed.(Jamaica/U.S.)


  2. Genna Sarnak

    Great idea and awesome list! Good luck to you, I’ve excited to hear your reviews. By the way, have you ever read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys? It’s a pre-quel to Jane Eyre, yet following the main character as “Mad Bertha,” the West Indies woman Rochester keeps in his attic! It’s totally twisted but beautifully written. I don’t know if it would count on your list, and it’s not a Caribbean writer, per say, but it’s a great book with a lot of depth and beauty!


    1. It’s taken me aaages to respond to this lovely query of yours, Genna, but permit me to share with you now that ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ is one of my favourite, best-beloved books of All Time. It’s one of the handful of books about which I am truly reticent, when it comes to reviewing, since no review could ever encompass entirely just how much I love it, and treasure its importance in my life.

      I highly recommend reading more of Jean Rhys, if you haven’t yet — she is spectacular, and I regret deeply that she was never as lauded for her work during her lifetime, as she has become in her death. Her unfinished autobiography, ‘Smile Please’ is particularly illuminating. 🙂


  3. Pingback: British Books Challenge @The Bookette | Novel Niche: A Place for Books

  4. Pingback: 12. ‘Fruit of the Lemon’ – Andrea Levy | Novel Niche: A Place for Books

  5. Pingback: 14. ‘How to Escape from a Leper Colony’ – Tiphanie Yanique | Novel Niche: A Place for Books

  6. Pingback: 16. ‘Sections of an Orange’ – Anton Nimblett | Novel Niche: A Place for Books

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