Our Caribbean Sea runs deep, it is an ocean with lots to offer, Yet, how many of us explore within or roam to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond? Thankfully, an initiative such as the CODE’s Burt Award for Caribbean Literature is helping to maintain the currents of awareness for current Caribbean literature. Now, in its fifth year, this Award recognizes three literary works of young Caribbean authors between the ages of eleven and nineteen, with the publishers of winning titles being awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies, which are then donated to libraries, schools and literacy organizations regionally. Do join the current of awareness and come on board now as The Caribbean Current invites you to delve into exploring the offerings of some ten Caribbean authors. Respecting our mentors; Earl Lovelace V.S. Naipaul, Michael Anthony and the like, we move now to those who have dropped their offerings within the last twenty-four months.
To start us off, we have hailing from Jamaica, Barbara Makeda Blake Hannah. Long name, yes? An author with a long name, mirroring the long rich history of our Caribbean isles. A history many of us remain mostly uninformed about. Here then, we have this author offering to us “The Moon Has Its Secrets.”
In this novel, Hannah sheds some light on the life of Jamaican National Hero, Nanny. Through this Nanny inspired fiction novel, we learn about who the Portland Maroons were. Through this print novel, those of us who might be the descendants of the Portland Maroons get to appreciate from whence we came and appreciate the horrors and rigors of slavery. Through our journey with the protagonist in the novel, we are reminded of the need to respect and value our Caribbean women and to pay homage to our elders. Through the writings of The Moon Has Its Secrets, the rich culture of the Afro-Jamaican is highlighted even as we are reminded of the struggle for equal rights and justice. One Amazon reviewer wrote, “It reminds us of the role of Marcus Garvey in instilling African pride in a people who had lost their identity.”
How many of us within the Caribbean would walk pass such a novel? How many of us say out loud or within, “that’s in the past!”? In a way, our history is our memory, and how can we as a people, as a region, go forward if we condone collective Caribbean Alzheimer’s? Who do we expect to care for or about us as we develop and endorse this condition?
What our history does is offer a pattern, and when read correctly, it might help us in exercising some improvements in both our present and our future. Could we not benefit from such as a region and as a Diaspora?
Photo of Author: Barbara Makeda Burke Hannah
One Amazon reviewer, Island Woman, wrote “Reading The Moon Has Its Secrets highlighted the strength of a woman from birth to womanhood…. It is a survival kit for life’s journey that can be used by everyone who goes into survival mode when faced [with] a major obstacle.”
For those of us who appreciate and value our history and might want to learn more about The Moon Has Its Secrets, a print or Kindle copy can easily be ordered through Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Moon-Has-its-Secrets-novel/dp/1500694649/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518683186&sr=1-1&keywords=the+moon+has+its+secrets
How might this book open the secrets of our history, since, for many of us, which is what it is like, secrets to be shared through Caribbean novels such as this one? How might we build a better sense of our regional identity through our print? “The Moon Has Its Secrets,” Island Woman continued, “… should be added to every household and become a conversational piece, because the community begins at home. If you are prepared you will survive the odds you encounter outside your community, as in Kofia’s journey. Kofia shared survival information with her children born in Jamaica, which was handed to her grand-daughter Nanny. Nanny was calm, proud and collective when faced with obstacles. Her planning mode and accomplishment came from way back to her Mother. She did not ask why, she just took the necessary action of survival and went into the team leadership mode, which is so necessary, and is lacking in today’s generation.”
In appreciating this contribution about the Portland Maroons of Jamaica, we can also appreciate that there are so many islands with stories to be told.This is exactly the wealth we are offered in this collection of Caribbean writings, So Many Islands, edited by Nicholas Laughlin of Trinidad and Tobago with the introduction by Marlon James and afterword by Sia Figuel. – https://www.amazon.com/So-Many-Islands-Caribbean-Mediterranean/dp/1846592070/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518698306&sr=1-1&keywords=so+many+islands
Yes, So Many Islands travels through the offerings of seventeen small islands in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and Indian and Pacific Oceans. It brings together essays and poems from: Mikoyan Vekula (Niue – Cook Islands), Emma Kate Lewis (Malta), Kendel Hippolyte (St. Lucia), Cecil Browne (St Vincent & The Grenadines), Fetuolemoana Elisara (Samoa), Erato Ioannou (Cyprus), Tammi Browne-Bannister (Antigua & Barbuda), Mere Taito (Rotuma), Tracy Assing (Trinidad & Tobago), Marita Davies (Kiribati), Heather Barker (Barbados), Angela Barry (Bermuda), Melanie Schwapp (Jamaica), Damon Chua (Singapore), Sabah Carrim (Mauritius), and Jacob Ross (Grenada).
Can we appreciate the deep significance of understanding what it is to operate within a small space, both for our internal cordial existence and our external visibility and viability? Those of us who do would be able to appreciate Marlon James as he wrote, “Here is one more thing about island people: we have a way of taking influences, even powerful ones, and assimilating them even as they try to assimilate us. We remix them, re-contextualize them, push them to the background or layer them on top of a verse…. This is the real globalism, a glorious cacophony that seeks no common ground other than attitude.” http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/so-many-islands/
Attitude though is hardly automatic, and one of the ways we maintain attitudes that can serve our people within the Caribbean region is through our literature. Therefore, as we learn from So Many Islands” how we protested, how childhood innocence was and then was lost, how many left their island shores to return, how we tackled the traumatic Transatlantic Slave Trade, and how our sports brought us together as a region, we also explore the deeper question of how we can contend with our space limitations while rising to possibilities yet untold. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SoManyIslands
So many islands—we are that—make up our Caribbean region and in so many ways we are between two fires, the fires within that propel us forward, upward, and onward toward the global stage, and the external fires that threaten to consume us with our relatively small size within the global context. Might this have been some of the ponderings of Toni Williams as he authored Between Two Fires?
Maybe not, but instead, Williams shares some of the naturally arising saga melodrama that might have been born within the bowels of our Plantation Society of old. Here, we are afforded the opportunity of having a piece of our historic Caribbean lifetime in print as we read about Bridget the American married to a British nobleman and falling under the spell of the charismatic islander Rudy, with all the complications of the triad and forbidden love within the isle of Saint Lucia.
Williams does not stop there. He understands the psyche of our region well and allows this offering to be only the beginning of a sequel named, just as we regionally might describe it, Dread Desires I. So sure, we can enjoy the suspense thrillers from Stephen King and the like, but might we appreciate too how much we can draw psychological thrillers from right within our region, and certainly Williams, in the initiation of his Dread Desires trilogy, is offering a refreshing perspective on the tried and true recipe for enthralling thrillers. – https://www.amazon.com/Between-Fires-Dread-Desires-Book-ebook/dp/B018PPKRLS
There are times when life experiences can be like a blend of an enthralling thriller, a sad drama, and suspense and even seem surreal. As we explore our offerings from Caribbean authors then, we can expect a mixture of offerings. One newcomer to the World of Caribbean literature is Jamaican, Melissa Williamson. Williamson, a confessed avid reader, has entered her novel “Anna Bell: The Sometimes Loner with an Unbreakable Spirit” into our pool of Caribbean literature. Our protagonist, Anna Bell, takes us through the trials and rigors of surviving after childhood abuse. What’s more, Anna Bell embodies that essence of the Caribbean spirit that Williamson alludes to in her title, defining such as an ‘Unbreakable Spirit.’ A novel filled with creating that regional landscape that we know, and love and blending the cultural creole with our Standardized English; its Caribbean bearing is strong, even as it embodies our regional code of triumph over trials.
Melissa Williamson promotes her maiden novel through social media and email. We are left to wonder though, with such a wealth of Caribbean offerings on Amazon, whether a listing ought to be created of same and updated periodically. How can we really go about further promoting our wealth of print media? Like most of the other authors, this book can be found on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Anna-Bell-Sometimes-Unbreakable-Spirit/dp/1985167166/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519140699&sr=1-1&keywords=anna+bell%3Athe+sometimes+loner
Anna Bell, Rosalie, and Joan from Green Days by the River, are hardly the only female protagonists to be featured in Caribbean novels. In light of our socio-cultural background, we surely can appreciate The Sugar Planter’s Daughter. This is exactly what we are offered by novelist Sharon Maas. To be more explicit it really is The Sugar Planter’s Daughter: A beautiful heartbreaking novel of love, loss and hidden tragedy. It would seem we could only imagine that across the many isles such sagas continued and are now told in the literature.
Of course, we can get the full story of The Sugar Planter’s Daughter on Amazon, a story that in some respects continues, even today—that saga of forbidden love by colour, class or convenience. This novel tells of “1912, British Guiana, South America: Winnie Cox about to marry George Quint, the love of her life. Born into a life of luxury and privilege on her father’s sugar plantation, Winnie has turned against her family by choosing to be with George – a poor black postman from the slums.” – https://www.amazon.com/Sugar-Planters-Daughter-heartbreaking-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01FPVDKBE
Finally, we have come upon an author who has gone beyond the deep Amazon and has launched her website showcasing her other literary offerings such as The Lost Daughter of India and many others. Sharon Maas might be leading the way in options beyond the tried and true Amazon. Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951. Her first novel, Of Marriageable Age, is set in India and Guyana and was published by HarperCollins in 1999. Subsequent novels were published in 2001 and 2003. https://www.sharonmaas.com/bio
Our literary Caribbean Sea surely runs deep, and this is only the beginning. We can, for those interested, delve into the Amazon to find all we have discovered and no doubt so much more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.