Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novels

There is something to be said for the regional Caribbean appreciation of growing through experiences, the tale of triumphing through trials. This might almost be described as part of the common wealth that runs throughout the region. Beginning with Charmaine Slater’s literary contribution of Lost in the Sunset, this is exactly the type of wealth we unearth from our five Caribbean novelists. For Slater, the tale of triumphing through trials began as a personal journey. It was the inspiration to reflect, as the days go by, on the changing relationship between mother and daughter, and the way a mother’s sharing her own experiences along the path that her daughter walks that leads to a positive transformation for both mother and daughter and their relationship.

So, in Lost in the Sunset, we meet Toni St. Hillaire as she is journeying through her transitions within the emotional roller coaster of love, failure, expectations, hopes, disappointments and meeting again her lost love Jean-Marc with whom she retreats, reminisces and revisits their friendship. We can get Lost in the Sunset at Amazon and at Goodreads.

Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novelsTrinidad-born novelist Charmine currently resides in Barbados, enjoyed writing short stories and poems as a teenager, but really discovered her passion for writing during a period of change and introspection. In addition to using her novel to inspire positive change, Ms. Slater has a blog on her website entitled “Inspiring Positive Change” where Lost in the Sunset is also available http://charminesslater.com.

Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novels

Author of Lost in the Sunset…Charmine S. Slater

In addition to book promotions on her Facebook page, we can expect an official launch of this 2012 novel later this year. This novelist next looks toward inspiring positive change by using her professional financial training to promote dollars and sense wealth with her upcoming book, Money Management.

Just as our first novelist drew on the wealth of her experience to add to her daughter’s resources when needed, so too, does Michelle Borel in her book  Soulspection which is a collection of poetry. The process of going through the tough times and finding renewed focus, and then sharing the results so that others could feed when needed is her goal for writing Soulspection. Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novelsIn Soulspection we discover the theme of self-respect in Fool No More and a maturating appreciation of discovering beauty within in Blinded by the Look. The poetic style might vary but the common wealth theme remains throughout the truism of the possibilities of triumphing through trials. As Michelle puts it “to live this life to the fullest, time must be spent on introspection and retrospection, down to the very depths of your soul,” in other words “soulspection”.

Get Soulspection at Amazon and at Google books

Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novels

Michelle Borel, author of Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad.

Further to launching her maiden novel, Caribbean broadcaster Michelle Borel was able to trace her leanings to contribute to our literary common wealth as she noted  “A child learns not only by what they are told but mostly by what they see. I saw my mother writing down any idea that came Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novelsto her mind, at any hour in the morning. I saw her put it into action.”

Things put into action often leads to much influence, and so too it was for our next author Krystal A. Sital as she witnessed that regional cultural experience of story-sharing with her mother and grandmother. Similar to the experience of the author of Lost in the Sun, Krystal was able to draw on the strengths of her foremothers as their stories told of how they survived and found the strength within themselves to carry on. This story sharing creates a relief, bonding these three women in Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad.

Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novels

Krystal A. Sital, author of ‘Secrets We Kept-Three Women of Trinidad

In Secrets We Kept, we meet Krystal loving and idolizing her wealthy Hindu landowner grandfather, but unknown to Krystal at that time, her grandfather is not the kind of man who she thinks he is. After migrating to New Jersey seeking that ‘good life’ with Krystal’s mother who worked as a nanny, her grandfather falls into a coma, and it is then the secrets come out. Sital, while capturing the lushness of her Caribbean isle, its sounds, hot weather, and strong curry aromas, also touches on challenges of racial and ethnic integration, the unique struggles of those born of mixed races and the unspoken suggestion that domestic violence could be bearable for the family’s sake.

It is cooking their delightful meals in their New Jersey kitchen that the secrets are revealed. Sital’s Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad openly tells of ambition and cruelty, love and endurance, and most importantly the tenacity to push through the pain and make peace with the past.

Get Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad at Amazon or at Green Light Bookstore.

 Even as we untwine the different novels, the common wealth of overcoming persists. It is no different as we actually enter the world of Untwine, a remarkable story by Haitian-born author Edwidge Danticat. Danticat tells a haunting and intriguing story about twin sisters Gisele and Isabelle Boyer. It is Gisele who must discover the wealth of triumphing through trials as a car accident leaves her motionless in a hospital bed. It is while being made immobile by the car accident that Gisele revisits and works through the demons of her past. It is then that Gisele pushes through loss by embracing the love of family and friends. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat takes the reader through the spiraling pain of longing and regret to the recovery that comes after introspection to discover the strength when we are not encouraged. Untwine is a lyrical tale with a mix of love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Get Untwine at Amazon

Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novels

Edwidge Danticat, author of Untwine

Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novelsAs Gisele would have had to untwine fact and fiction, so did our sole male novelist, Kei Miller, untwine fiction and non-fiction to share the wealth of Augustown. For novelist Kei Miller the bits of non-fiction was the Jamaican August Town December 1920 incident where messianic preacher Alexander Bedward wooed his followers to part with possessions in the belief that they were going to fly away homewards to heaven. It is this Bedward story that forms the backdrop for the modern Augustown novel which has been described as a good read https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28447227-augustown

Celebrating the common wealth of Caribbean novels

Kei Miller, author of Augustown

Similar to Sital, Miller explores the poignantly painful aspects of a Caribbean isle and the way people push through pain, almost revolt to experience revelation and recovery. For Miller in the isle of Jamaica in fictionalized Augustown, it is preacher Bedward’s followers who wake from their fantasies to come to the realization that slavery has evolved to suit the times. The new name for slavery is Babylon, a system coordinating structural inequalities within the society. As we learn of Babylon, Miller drizzles the novel with the feel of the Rastafarianism movement. It is the pleasantly and sometimes painful telling of an island that continues to not only survive but strive for an emancipation after emancipation, that emancipation that Bob Marley might have been eluding to in his music.

Within a somewhat daunting situation in Augustown, we meet Gina. Gina is working toward that emancipation Bob Marley sang of, refusing to allow societal expectation and prejudices to bound her. Gina tries to heed the warning of her foremother, Ma Taffy. Augustown brings a raw rugged realism to triumphing through trials, which that drives the story towards an unbearably dramatic denouement.

By Kerriann Toby


Kerriann Toby holds a Master of Counselling and Bachelor of Psychology. She is a dynamic therapist, trained mediator; and educator since 2000. In addition to being a trained educator, mediator, and therapist, she is a certified Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Professional. Kerriann has also trained in cyber counseling and holds clinical registration with Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) & Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

In mid-October 2015 she initiated operations of KarryOn geared toward the provision of a variety of enhancement and developmental services for the individual, groups and the organization; e-Coaching/Counseling, Mediation, EAP Services and the creative presentation of psycho-social information. She can be reached at karryonservices@mail.com.

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