New Book: The Scent of the Past and Other Stories by Wayne Brown
If one wanted to find out what Trinidad and the Caribbean have been like in the last decades of the 20th century, there would be no better place to look than the stories in this collection. Whilst many of the writers of his generation reconstructed the Caribbean world from distance and memory, publishing primarily for a metropolitan audience, Brown’s stories began as publications in his weekly newspaper column with a very substantial popular audience. But there is nothing ephemeral about this work, because Brown invested these pieces with all a major poet’s delight in the power of language and with a craftsman’s meticulous concern for their structure as short stories. Frequently, the line between fiction and actuality is deliberately blurred as Brown invokes the shaping light of memory to resurrect the people and places he had known or loved (or merely imagined). Wayne Brown is no less a character in these fictions than Philip Roth and his various avatars are in his novels. What the reader encounters in the collection is Brown’s striking ability to portray people and tell stories that are particular and unique, but which cohere to form an unrivalled portrait of a rapidly changing society.
Best known as one of the Caribbean’s most incisive commentators, Wayne Brown raised a weekly newspaper column to a literary art. Between 1984 and 2009, some 3,500 editions of his column “In Our Time” appeared in Trinidadian and Jamaican newspapers.
About Wayne Brown
Born in Trinidad in 1944, Wayne Brown read English at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and lived mainly between the two countries until his death in 2009. His books include On The Coast (Andre Deutsch, 1973) which was awarded the Commonwealth Prize for Poetry, and was a Poetry Book Society recommendation; Edna Manley: The Private Years (Andre Deutsch, 1976), a biography of the Jamaican sculptress; a second volume of poems, Voyages (Inprint Caribbean, 1989); and The Child of the Sea (Inprint Caribbean, 1990), like his later Landscape with Heron (Observer Literary Books, 2000), a collection of short stories and remembrances. He edited Derek Walcott: Selected Poetry (Heinemann Caribbean, 1981) and edited and produced several anthologies of Jamaican fiction and poetry.
Wayne Brown was a Gregory Fellow in Poetry at the University of Leeds, England, a Fulbright Scholar in the US, and a Fellow of Yaddo, MacDowell, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He lectured in English Literature in the US and at both the Trinidadian and Jamaican campuses of the University of the West Indies. Between 1984 and 2009, some 3,500 editions of his column “In Our Time” appeared in Trinidadian and Jamaican newspapers; and between February and November 2008 he wrote a weekly column, “The Race for the White House”, which appeared in the Sunday editions of the Trinidad Express, the Nation (Barbados) and the Stabroek News (Guyana). For six months in 2009 he wrote a column called “In the Obama Era”, before returning to his original, wide-ranging column, “In Our Time”.
Wayne Brown was editor of the literary pages of the Sunday Observer and the Sunday Gleaner and was the founder-tutor of The Creative Writing Workshop. He also tutored in Creative Writing (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) in the Low-residency MFA Creative Writing program of Lesley University, MA; taught Creative Writing (Poetry) at the UWI, Mona; and taught an online creative writing course for Stanford University. His two daughters, Mariel and Saffrey, live in Trinidad and Jamaica respectively.