5 must-reads by Caribbean authors

With the prominent spots most of the 'Classics' of Literature have taken, what we deem 'literary canon' has been shaped by books that many of us can't relate to.

The reason lies heavily in the fact that most of these classics are by European authors, written in times where colonial and neo-colonial thoughts pervaded most of our books. These ideologies have caused us to heap huge amounts of praise on Europe, and foreign countries at large. The love affair with classical literature has made us feel ever so affectionate to the vast beauty of the 'mother' countries while there is little love for our own. Don't get me wrong, Europe is beautiful, and I have read mostly classical literature, however, with all that I've read I've also seen the common thread of praising social norms I just can't always relate to as a Caribbean person.

However, I was amazed to find out that there were prominent Caribbean authors who wrote at the level of the classic authors. Instead of sights of Europe and America that I felt indifferent to, images of our natural Caribbean beauties, our majestic mountains, scintillating streams, and rewarding rivers. With this newfound love, here are five books by Caribbean authors you should really consider reading. I haven't read all of them to be completely honest, but from fellow book lovers like myself, I place my trust, to give you these recommendations. Oh, and guess what! Some of them use Caribbean languages like Jamaican Creole too!

  1. Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul

Written by Trinidadian Naipaul, this book delves into the lives of people in a small community in Trinidad called Miguel Street. It presents refreshing tales of familiar community life which you are sure to be enthralled by.

  1. The Same Earth by Kei Miller

Imelda, Imelda, Imelda. Told from the perspectives of different people at different time periods in Jamaican history, we hear the story of the main character Imelda, a Jamaican who went to the UK to study law. She comes back to Jamaica to embrace her roots in a thrilling, unique writing style that is sure to leave you joyous when you get to the climax.

  1. Omeros by Derek Walcott

Our very own Barbadian Nobel Prize Laureate Walcott engages us in a thrilling epic poem which is sure to keep you glued to the pages!

  1. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

After author Charlotte Bronte told us the classic novel Jane Eyre, which seems to inadvertently highlight several colonial ideologies, our amazing Dominican author Jean Rhys provides a more Caribbean perspective. Wide Sargasso Sea is more than a sequel, it is a clap back to all things neo-colonial, and the more familiar perspective of a Caribbean protagonist is sure to be relatable to you.

  1. Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

The haunting, the provocation, the Caribbean. This story of an Antiguan girl, quite similar to the style of Catcher in the Rye is sure to create a new found love for Annie John, as opposed to the formerly mentioned American classic. I love the Catcher in the Rye, it's one of my favorites, but a Caribbean book similar to this, what more could you want?

It's time for us to embrace our own culture, and fight against the cultural imperialism that we have to face. It is time to support our very own Caribbean authors.

---Fabrizio Darby



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