My Caribbean Year

Last year, as some of you may remember, was my Year of Down Under, in which I attempted (and failed, but no matter...) to read one Australian book per month. I didn't get through all the works I wanted to (no Peter Carey, no Tim Winton!), but it still proved to be a really fascinating way to read, bringing out all sorts of interesting ways of thinking about nation and national traditions or fascinations.

So what will this year's theme be? Well, I had felt the pull of a non-English-language theme, one that would require much more reading in translation. China and Japan loomed large in these musings. But I am contemplating teaching courses in Anglophone literature more and more frequently these days, so I decided to go for a different sort of a regional focus: the Caribbean.

Below are some authors I would love to read for the first time or read more of in the next twelve months (I have also noted specific works by these authors that I own or that particularly interest me):

  • Julia Alvarez (Dominican Republic)
    • In the Time of the Butterflies
  • Reinaldo Arenas (Cuba)
    • Before Night Falls
  • Edwidge Danticat (Haiti)
    • Krik? Krak!
  • Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua)
    • My Brother
  • Patrick Chamoiseau (Martinique)
    • Texaco
  • Paule Marshall (Barbados)
    • The Chosen Place, The Timeless People
  • V.S. Naipaul (Trinidad)
    • A Bend in the River
  • Jean Rhys (Dominica)
    • Quartet
  • Caryl Phillips (St. Kitts)
    • Crossing the River
    • A Distant Shore
  • Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia/Trinidad)
    • Omeros
  • Aime Cesaire (Martinique)
    • The Tempest
  • Andrea Levy (Jamaica)
    • Small Island
  • David Dabydeen (Guyana)
    • A Harlot's Progress
I have included (in parentheses) the part of the Caribbean these authors are most closely associated with; the literature of this region is particularly geographically complex and diasporic, so I have included authors who are of very recent (within one generation) Caribbean descent, as well as those who were born in the Caribbean, but later left, for whatever reason.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I would be particularly interested in suggestions of good general histories about the Caribbean.

3 Responses so far.

  1. My favorite Caribbean-related lit of late is Tobias Buckell's Caribbean-flavored SF---Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin. Awesome books, although not quite what you're looking for. :)

  2. Sounds intriguing! I will have to look into Buckell....

  3. nessie says:

    Wide Sargasso Sea is a wonderful novel. Feminist literature at its best to be sure (none of the hair pulling steryoltyoes). You have Rhys on your list already but I did not see that title.

    Also, You MUST read Peter Carey. I started off reading him with WRONG ABOUT JAPAN - his only work of non-fiction (travel literature).

    If you do decide sometime to have Japan as your theme give me a ring. I got a degree in that and can point you to some awesome reads.

    Thanks for that list though. Makes me realize how underdeveloped I am in that area.

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