June is #ReadCaribbean Month. Founded in 2019 by the Jamaican Book of Cinz, the event celebrates our literary contribution by reading books about the Caribbean, by Caribbean authors or set in the region!
Want to participate? Good! Prips invites you to enjoy these 4 books by Caribbean-born writers.
A Tall History of Sugar by Curdelia Forbes
Written by a Jamaican academic, this one tells the story of Moshe Fisher, who was found floating in a basket like Moses. He is discriminated against because of his unique appearance, “pale skin, one sky-blue and one dark-brown eye, his hair long, wavy and bleached blond in front and short, black and pepper-grainy in the back.” Luckily, he finds love in the beautiful Arriene, his ideal soulmate, who tries hard to protect him from “social and emotional consequences.”
She narrates their epic love story, from their meeting as children in the late 50s into the present. The NY Times review said it as a “novel of Jamaica brimming with magic, passion and history.”
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Though published a century later, Rhys’ novel is meant to be a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel ‘Jane Eyre’. That tells the story of Mr. Rochester’s creole wife Bertha, who was born Antoinette Cosway. When we meet her in Bronte’s story, “madness” has confined her to the attic of her husband’s English manor. Rhys takes us back to her youth, showing Antoinette has always been ostracized. Her father, was a plantation owner in Jamaica whose death, and emancipation has decimated her family’s fortunes. With no wealth, a Martinican nursemaid and a French mother, Antoinette has no place in Jamaica. The object of scorn to other plantation owners and former slaves who live around them, she and Rochester marry to try to improve their fortunes. Unfortunately, things only get worse from there.
Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall
Set in contemporary Jamaica, Hall’s young adult novel centres around Frankie from rural Jamaica. A university scholarship overseas seems a way out from poverty and a strained family life. As always, man makes plans and God laughs!, After his father is shot, it’s up to Frankie to pay off his medical bills. He can only do so by joining his uncle’s gang, putting his dreams on hold, possibly for life. This gritty novel raises the tough question faced by many Jamaicans. If the choices are a rock and a hard place, which do you choose?
Arrival of the Snake-Woman and other stories by Olive Senior
First published in 1989, Senior’s collection of short stories are still relevant today. In the titular story, a young boy narrates the arrival of a young Indian woman in a small village in Jamaica She marries a local man, and finds many changes that go along with that. We meet a host of characters: a reluctant housewife, her oblivious husband and a beloved, if ragged, tree, a grumpy retiree whose neighbours become his lone source of entertainment, a lonely little girl and her best friend, and a seashell. Senior’s work uncovers the ways people change, for better or worse, and the complexities of Jamaican life.