It has been a rough couple of months for the Caribbean and it’s completely changed how we live on the islands. Many of us struggled among the shutdowns and quarantine orders, even though we appreciated the importance of staying safe.
Being outside at all hours of the day and socialising with family and friends are some of the benefits of living in this sunny region. But when doing so could potentially put the lives of many at risk, we turned to inside activities, curated by modern comforts such as the internet.
As an avid reader, researching the Caribbean is one of my favourite past times. I could spend hours reading about fun tropical adventures, luxurious Caribbean resorts, delicious Caribbean foods and national dishes and the exploits of Caribbean people.
Seeing that many regulars and potential new visitors cannot grace our shores the experience the awesomeness of the islands, here are some literary treasures that will take you through the Caribbean and around the world and back.
1. The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke
Austin Clarke is the author of this best seller, which is set in the Barbados after the second World War. Be patient, remain focused and concentrate on the prose as you “listen” to Mary recount her captivating story filled with suspense, murder and mystery.
2. Green Days by the River by Michael Anthony
Trinidadian author Michael Anthony introduces the world to Shell, a young boy faced with new responsibilities and competing love interests. The novel presents a unique view of a teenage boy growing up in Trinidad and Tobago.
3. A Brighter Sun by Sam Selvon
Sam Selvon’s A Brighter Sun is a brilliant exploration of the culture and social changes that faced the island of Trinidad during World War II. The author addresses these issues through Tiger, a young boy who becomes a man.
4. Ti-Jean and his Brothers by Derek Walcott
Derek Walcott’s play about three brothers Gros Jean, Mi-Jean and Ti-Jean and their experiences with the Devil. The play is filled with vivid imagery and themes which explore daily struggles faced by Caribbean people.
5. To Da-duh, in Memoriam by Paule Marshall
To Da-Duh was written by the late Paule Marshall, an American born author of Barbadian parentage. This autobiographical story looks at life’s memories through the eyes of an adult. It begins when the narrator was nine years old, visiting Barbados from New York.
6. It So Happen: Caribbean Short Stories by Timothy Callender
It So Happen is a collection of lyrically rich short stories. The author, Timothy Callender, explores situations that are characteristic of Caribbean life. These stories gained prominence through radio readings by the late Alfred Pragnell and Frank Collymore.
7. In the Castle of My Skin by George Lamming
Written in 1953, In the Castle of My Skin explores several Caribbean themes and events from slavery to race, to education to colonialism. The novel was George Lamming’s first novel and is seen as a literary classic.
8. Over Our Way by Jean D’Costa & Velma Pollard
Over Our Way is a glorious collection of Caribbean short stories which explore various topics. Although the target audience of the book may be children and children, adults will find the stories and lives of the children entertaining.
I read several of these enriching books at school in preparation for examinations. As a child I did not appreciate the greatness of these authors and their words. Now that I can see the value of their thoughts to the Caribbean, I am sharing them with you. There is no time like the present to indulge in this list of literary classics from the Caribbean’s best authors.