March 31, 2010

Book Review: The World Is What It Is by Patrick French







Reviewed by Cyril Dabydeen 
 
A curmudgeon, there’s no question. As far as rumours go about V. S. Naipaul, Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winner, knighted by the Queen for being litterateur par excellence, he’s both celebrated and derided--all at the same time. But why? The recent Authorized Biography by Patrick French is still hotly discussed in literary circles. Mention the name V.S. Naipaul, and you’re bound to get a terse reaction, even with vitriol, often contrapuntal or just contrarious.
 
Many Caribbean intellectuals are fraught over him for his damning comments about race and Africa. At conferences I’ve heard the call for his books to be burned. His spat with the other Caribbean Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, is well-known (a la “V.S. Nighfall”). Yet Walcott has acknowledged Naipaul’s superb craftsmanship as a master stylist bent on changing the novel’s “bastardized form”--as Naipaul sees it.

Naipaul has said, “I became a writer to be free.” And maybe too free he is. His earliest books about India such as An Area of Darkness and A Wounded Civilization caused quite a stir. But Naipaul’s novels from the earliest, such as A House for Mr Biswas, to the later books like The Enigma of Arrival and A Bend in the River are classics, or near classics. Indeed the Nobel Prize Committee's citation of Naipaul's award was for his "incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories," and singling out The Enigma of Arrival (1987) for its "unrelenting image of the placid collapse of the old colonial ruling culture and the demise of European neighbourhoods."

Maybe therein lies the problem or dilemma--jaundiced as Naipaul’s view may be. The Muslim fundamentalist world has come in for much of his criticism in books such as Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey and Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples. Late distinguished post-colonial critic Edward Said would describe what he calls Naipaul’s “funny moments... at the expense of Muslims, who are ‘wogs’ after all as seen by Naipaul's British and American readers, potential fanatics and terrorists, who cannot spell, be coherent, sound right to a worldly-wise, somewhat jaded judge from the West."

However, Said acknowledged in his Reith Lectures Naipaul’s "extraordinary antennae as a novelist," of his "sifting through the debris of colonialism and post-colonialism, remorselessly judging the illusions and cruelties of independent states and the new true believers." This distilled view is juxtaposed with Naipaul’s earlier expression in Middle Passage (1962): "History is built around achievement and creation; and nothing was created in the West Indies,” which caused a furor among some West Indian intellectuals. Naipaul has gone on to speak of "the colonial smallness [of Trinidad] that didn't      consort with the grandeur of my ambition."

Naipaul has influenced a whole slew of writers, including this writer, as well as many modern-day Indians like Amitav Ghosh. Indeed, Ghosh has said, “it was Naipaul who first made it possible for me to think of myself as a writer,” as he grew more comfortable with the indwelling life of the mind. The most well-known Chinese-American writer, Ha Jin, told us (when I was a juror of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature at the University of Oklahoma) how he would read Naipaul all the time on his train journeys in the US.

Recent book reviewers of the French Biography have commented on Naipaul’s treatment of his wife, Pat (he met her at Oxford), and perhaps she was his best editor and confidante. French quotes Naipaul as saying “I have killed her.” Pat died of breast cancer. His unsentimental self is what we have and being unequivocal about art as well as equally satirical about politics as Naipaul assesses old and new societies, often unsparing about the latter.

About himself and India, Naipaul has said: “I cannot belong to India for the simple reason that I don’t know the language.” Naipaul, of course, is of Indian forbears: the grandson of an indentured sugar cane worker--of Brahmin caste--brought from Uttar Pradesh by the British to the Chaguanas plantations in Trinidad. And you would think that Naipaul would hate the British for this. But he has said, in l979, perhaps too forthrightly: "I do not write for Indians, who in any case do not read. My work is only possible in a liberal, civilized western country"; and the enigma echoes: "The thing about being an Indian, and it remains true of Indian writing now, is that it seems to work without history, in a vacuum."

Misanthropic, if not satirical, Naipaul continues to excite or intrigue, perhaps for just being outrageous with trenchant utterances like his egregiously famous, "The dot means my head is empty,” referring to the bindi Hindu women wear; or, on Pakistan: "The Pakistani dream is one day there'll be a Muslim resurgence and they will lead the prayers in the mosques in Delhi"; and of Britain, “It’s a country of second-rate people--bum politicians, scruffy writers and crooked aristocrats."

In French’s Biography, there are touching elements, such as Naipaul’s obsession and praising of his writer-father Seepersad Naipaul, and about the family squabbles pitting the Capildeo clan (on his mother’s side) with the Naipauls (on his father’s), all which rivets the attention, as one is also acutely aware of Naipaul seeing “mimic men” in the colonial setting with all that’s banal or incongruous.

V.S. Naipaul keeps seeking out other meanings in a diasporic new world order by setting his gaze on more than imaginary homelands (as Salman Rushdie does), always with troubling enigmas and, on occasion, mutinies, if a million or more in India, which still beckons. Indeed, he is the sum of his books; the novels always tell more than the biography. Naipaul affirms Marcel Proust’s axiom of "the secretions of one's innermost self, written in solitude and for oneself alone that one gives to the public,” seen in his own imaginative outpouring. But maybe with Naipaul controversy never ends. The latest is about his Pakistani-journalist wife Nadira Naipaul’s spat with Winnie Mandela over an interview-article in the UK’s Evening Standard touching on Nelson Mandela’s patriarchal image. Read on!

Originally published: Monday, March 15, 2010 /SouthAsia Mail

About the author:

Cyril Dabydeen’s novel, Drums of My Flesh (TSAR Publications) won the Guyana Prize for Best Book of Fiction and had been nominated for the prestigious IMPAC/Dublin Prize for Literature. His latest poetry collection is Unanimous Night (Black Moss Press, Canada).

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March 30, 2010

Author Blog Awards 2010: Nominations


I've been nominated for the Author Blog Awards 2010. The nominations process is open until 2 April – you can vote here

The author blogs with the most nominations will be put onto a shortlist and everyone who nominates that author will be eligible to win some lovely prizes.

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Accepting Submissions: Caribbean Vistas



CARIBBEAN VISTAS:

CRITIQUES OF CARIBBEAN ARTS AND CULTURES


Caribbean Vistas, a refereed journal [written in English] in electronic form, will serve both as a formal venue for scholarly discussion and as an academic and cultural resource for researchers.


Articles in Caribbean Vistas will examine Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone literatures, cultures, languages, visual arts, and performance arts from a variety of perspectives with an emphasis on works created in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.


A section for previously unpublished poetry of Caribbean writers will also be a feature of Caribbean Vistas. Dr. Kwame Dawes, noted author and cultural critic, is the Poetry Editor of Caribbean Vistas.


Reviews in Caribbean Vistas will analyze recent fiction, poetry, drama, and literary nonfiction as well as scholarly works of interest in the disciplines.


Caribbean Vistas (ISSN xxxx-xxxx) will be published twice a year (Summer and Winter) for the on-line academic, artistic, and cultural community by the Caribbean Arts and Culture Symposium.


Our first issue will appear in Summer 2010.


AVAILABILITY


Caribbean Vistas will be available on the World Wide Web at: 




Our site on the World Wide Web will be active, though still under construction, as of September 15, 2009.


EDITORIAL GROUP


The Caribbean Vistas Editorial Group is representative of the international academic, artistic, and cultural community and includes artists and scholars with wide-ranging interests and experience, from emerging to well-established senior academics and artistic professionals.


Poetry Editor:
Kwame Dawes, University of South Carolina


Associate Editors:
Consuella Bennett, Morehouse College
Francisco Cabanillas, Bowling Green State University
Sandra Campbell, Carleton University, (Ottawa, Canada)
Keith B. Mitchell, UMass, Lowell
Thomas Ward, Loyola University Maryland
Christopher Winks, Queens College, CUNY


Advisory Editors:
Leah Creque, Morehouse College
Cyril Dabydeen, University of Ottawa (Canada)
Janice Fournillier, Georgia State University
Alix Pierre, Morris Brown College
Victor Ramraj, University of Calgary
Keja Valens, Salem State College


Editor:
Emily Allen Williams, SCAD-Atlanta


SUBMISSIONS


Caribbean Vistas invites contributions (primarily critical essays) on literary, artistic, and cultural topics as well as essays on interdisciplinary studies from the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone cultural traditions.


Previously unpublished poetry of Caribbean literary artists is also welcomed.
Specifications, including style sheets, are available from the editor.


Contributions, including critical essays, poetry, studies, bibliographies, notices, letters to the Editor, and other materials, may be submitted to the Editor by electronic mail at ewilliam@scad.edu or vistas@caribbeansymposium.com and by postal mail at:


Dr. Emily Williams
Professor, Professional Writing
SCAD-Atlanta
1600 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309


Brief hard-copy correspondence may be sent by fax to (770) 676-9477.


Electronic mail submissions are accepted in Microsoft Word format only.


All submissions must follow the current Modern Language Association Documentation Style.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION. . .


For additional information, or to join our mailing list, send a message to ewilliam@scad.edu or vistas@caribbeansymposium.com

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Save the Date: April 3, 2010: Jamaica For Sale


The Caribbean is the region most economically dependent on tourism and Jamaica is the 4th most indebted country in the world. Tourism is Jamaica's Sacred Cow, heavily promoted since 1891 as the way to modernization and prosperity it has tragically failed in its promises. Jamaica For Sale counters the dominant view that tourism is the savior of the Jamaican people. Lively and hard hitting, with powerful voices, arresting visuals and iconic music, Jamaica For Sale documents the environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts of unsustainable tourism development.

Jamaica for Sale

A film by Esther Figueroa & Diana McCaulay

Saturday, April 3, 2010

3 p.m.

African Heritage Cultural Arts Center,

6161 NW 22nd Avenue Miami, FL 33142


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March 26, 2010

In My Own Words: Heather D. Russell (2010)



As with any book, I arrived at Legba’s Crossing:  Narratology in the African Atlantic (2009) through a journey marked by crossroads (life’s experience), pathways (routes/roots), intuition (intrinsic commitment to justice and light) and divine inspiration (strictly a calling).  The following reminiscences reflect some of these:


- I remember the first time I met Damballah, powerful Haitian loa of the sky.  I met him as an undergraduate at Rutgers, reading a John Edgar Wideman novel.  I felt an instant spiritual/ideological connection, BUT I was also just meeting Sambo, Mammy, Jezebel, I mean I had seen them all over…but understood them now.  I wrestled with these counter-narratives:  the debased, dehumanizing, distorted representations of black people and how these images have been used to oppress us…and then, in stark contrast, this god…African, New World, powerful, philosophical, resistant, hidden.  Could/would the one be used/useful to subvert the other?  I could not answer that question definitively then…until I met Legba…


- As a lover of literature, I have never cottoned to linearity.  Grand narratives, neat, tidy endings, building chronologically or even teleologically -- always bored me.  I remember sophomore year, the first time I read Tristam Shandy and Eliot’s The Wasteland…I would not read in quite the same way after…and still…I had not yet gleaned how chronology and linearity were political tools, how these had been used to misrepresent, to distort, to silence, to simplify my history.


- Long before the death of the author was proclaimed, I was always infinitely more intrigued by the experience of reading a novel than the actual details revealed in it! Did it surprise?  Did it refuse to conform to my expectations?  WHO WAS I, at the end of the novel?  I suppose I have always been a non-con-form-ist!


- Legba’s Crossing is an attempt to theorize the revolutionary potential of the experience of reading…


- Growing up in Jamaica as the daughter of a Baptist minister from Free Town, Clarendon, a theologian and a Garveyite, a historian and advocate for the spiritually/materially dispossessed – I was taught by both of my parents to be inquisitive -- to question the status quo, to live a life in which works on earth were the most important manifestation of spirituality.  In 1976, my father was called to the historic East Queen Street Baptist Church in downtown Kingston where I began attending.  I was viscerally struck by social class inequity as a very young child.  My father had established a free medical and dental clinic for the community, housed at the church.  One day, when I was about seven-years old, a woman came for some treatment, but was, according to the deacon that drove her out of the churchyard, improperly dressed.  It was my earliest memory of the pervasive classism that is so deeply entrenched in Jamaica…I would later understand how color, colonialism, sexism, classism, poverty, violence, invisibility were interwoven…


- Legba’s Crossing is the culmination of years of research (some formal, some informal) -- It is a study in African Atlantic form, philosophy, aesthetics, history, politics, literature and the struggle of black people to live lives of dignity, decency, equity and fairness. 

- In
Legba’s Crossing, I examine literary texts, all of which engage key historical moments of black subjugation and resistance and which through their narrative structure, break with traditional forms governing time, space, narration, and conventional Western knowledge structures.  Diasporic and cross-temporal, my work includes analyses of:  the C19th Xhosa cattle killing in South Africa, US Reconstruction, the Grenada Revolution and invasion, Independence and post-Independence movement in Jamaica, Trinidad, US Civil Rights, and “globalization and race” in its African diasporic contexts. 

-
Legba’s Crossing is an attempt to examine the radical, democratizing, revolutionary potential of form…

- Invoking the Haitian loa
Papa Legba, who is the “god of the crossroads” --   as the sign of such African Atlantic narrative intervention -- I explore the philosophical, epistemological, and ethical concepts embodied by this god.

- I met
Papa Legba, first through Henry Louis Gates’ The Signifying Monkey, who examines Legba’s West African corollary:  Eshu-Elegbara.  By the time I had read about Eshu-Elegbara, Yoruba god of the crossroads, god of divine purpose, meaning, interpretation, I was not only viscerally interrupted, BUT for the first time, after being inundated with European theory, philosophy/ers, in graduate school, I realized that so much of current African Atlantic cultural production made much more sense once I understood Legba’s principles:  indeterminacy, nuance, contradiction, flexibility, Legba’s mandate that the human being must struggle with/for understanding, apprehension, divine purpose.  Jazz made more sense with Legba.  Our propinquity towards improvisation, disruption of flow, linearity, chronology.  Hip-hop made more sense with Legba.  African diaspora literature made more sense with Legba. 

Legba’s Crossing:  Narratology in the African Atlantic is my humble attempt to pull together some of the aforementioned tangled skeins of meaning…√†she.


For ordering information see:
http://www.ugapress.org/index.php/books/legbas_crossing/0/1

or
http://www.amazon.com/Legbas-Crossing-Narratology-African-Atlantic/dp/0820328677


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About the author:

Dr. Heather Russell’s research interests examine narrative form and its relationship to configurations of national/racial identities. Her latest book, Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic, was published by the University of of Georgia Press. She has also published in African American Review; Contours; The Massachusetts Review; and American Literature and has essays in a collection on John Edgar Wideman, Jacqueline Bishop’s, My Mother Who is Me, and Donna Aza Weir-Soley and Opal Palmer Adisa’s Caribbean Erotic.

At the undergraduate level, Dr. Russell regularly teaches C19th and C20th African American  Literatures; Major Caribbean Writers; Black Citizenships and Black History and the Fictive Imagination. For the graduate curriculum, she teaches African Diaspora Women Writers and Narratives of Enslavement and Resistance.

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You are cordially invited to attend the launch of 
Legba’s Crossing:  Narratology in the African Atlantic
by Heather Russell, Ph.D

March 27, 2010

South West Regional Library (SWR)
Pines Center
16835 Sheridan Street. Pembroke Pines, FL 33331
  
1-5pm (reception from 1-2pm)



RSVP:(954)257-8731 or russellh@fiu.edu

Sponsored by:South Regional/Southwest Regional

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March 24, 2010

Book Launch: Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic


You are cordially invited to attend the launch of 
Legba’s Crossing:  Narratology in the African Atlantic
by Heather Russell, Ph.D

March 27, 2010

South West Regional Library (SWR)
Pines Center
16835 Sheridan Street. Pembroke Pines, FL 33331
  
1-5pm (reception from 1-2pm)



RSVP:(954)257-8731 or russellh@fiu.edu

Sponsored by:South Regional/Southwest Regional

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About the author:

Dr. Heather Russell’s research interests examine narrative form and its relationship to configurations of national/racial identities. Her latest book, Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic, was published by the University of of Georgia Press. She has also published in African American Review; Contours; The Massachusetts Review; and American Literature and has essays in a collection on John Edgar Wideman, Jacqueline Bishop’s, My Mother Who is Me, and Donna Aza Weir-Soley and Opal Palmer Adisa’s Caribbean Erotic.

At the undergraduate level, Dr. Russell regularly teaches C19th and C20th African American Literatures; Major Caribbean Writers; Black Citizenships and Black History and the Fictive Imagination. For the graduate curriculum, she teaches African Diaspora Women Writers and Narratives of Enslavement and Resistance.

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March 23, 2010

Word Alive International Literary Festival: March 25-28, 2010

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Save the Date: Sunday, March 28, 200


The Rope and the Cross on Palm Sunday 

On Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010, at 5 p.m., the Episcopal Church of the Holy Family, 18501 NW 7th Avenue, Miami Gardens, will present a special staging of Easton Lee's award winning play, The Rope and the Cross. 

Award winning dub poet and actor Malachi Smith joins the talented Holy Family Church cast as the shepherd for the one night performance. While living in Jamaica, Malachi appeared in many plays including Romeo and Juliet, Flat Mate, Unsung Heroes out West, What the Wine Sellers Buy, etc., and in the USA, he appeared in Yankee Affair and Baby Father.

Andy Williams plays Jesus; Patrick Brown plays Judas; Marie Gill, Judas’ mother; Lavern Johnson, Mary; Carlo Callwood, John; Shontonna Wray, Sarah; Stacey Silvera, story teller; George Wilson, Pilate; Walter Wray, Herod, and the soldiers are: Desmond Smith, Nathan Mott, Jessie Ponder, Adrien Goffe, and Robert Goffe.

Father Easton Lee, C.D.,playwright and set designer, will also direct the play. The musical director is Ashworth Mathews and the production coordinators are Peta-Gaye Fancy and Marie Minto. Gwen McLean and Jean Lee designed the costumes.

The performance is free to the public.

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Further Info: Holy Family Church (305) 934-5392.
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March 22, 2010

Book Review: Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic




Perhaps the single most perplexing issue in the discussion African Atlantic aesthetics is the cultural connection among the African peoples who survived the Middle Passage. Drawing on the scholarship of Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Wilson Harris, and Kamau Brathwaite, Dr. Heather Russell in Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic weaves the authorial strategies of James Weldon Johnson, Audre Lorde, Michelle Cliff, Earl Lovelace, and John Edgar Wideman into a compelling model for Black Atlantic hermeneutics.

As if to disprove the notion that vibrant cultures could not be built on the holocaust of the African Atlantic, Dr. Russell introduces the concepts of the “jazz novel,” Legba Principle, “quilting,” and Great Time in three sections: Interruptions, Disruptions, and Eruptions. In Interruptions, she discusses the work of James Weldon Johnson and Audre Lorde vis-a-vis the Legba Principle: “the recognition that semantic open-endedness and indeterminacy are always mutually entwined with potentially life-enhancing lessons of the crossroads” (54). What fascinates Russell in her examination of Johnson and Lorde is the “breaking free from the discursive and epistemological expectations of the conventional form” of the autobiography (165). Form is the method by which cultures transmit values and Johnson’s and Lorde’s interruptions suggest alternative methods which ultimately challenge hegemonic notions of race and class.

Building on the ideas of the interruptions of form, Russell introduces two other models of African Atlantic hermeneutics: “quilting” and the “jazz novel.” In No Telephone to Heaven, Russell notes: “Michelle Cliff’s ‘quilted structure’ of narration tasks readers with acquiring an ‘African Atlantic literacy’ in order to glean more fully enduring legacies of the ravages and challenges of colonialism that African Atlantic peoples face in the context of colonialism’s inherited hierarchies of color and class” (166). No Telephone to Heaven, Russell contends, serves as a “tool for powerfully interrogating questions of race, imagination, and of course, the nation” (107).

With Earl Lovelace’s Salt, however, Russell offers a different exegetical model that derives from poet-critic Kamau Brathwaite’s “Jazz and the West Indian Novel”: “it will try to express the essence of this community through its formand its concern will be with the community as a whole, its characters taking their place in that community, of which they are felt to be an integral part” (127). In praxis the characters and narrator in Salt, Russell asserts, ‘jam’ on the viability of achieving racial understanding, political inclusion, and economic enfranchisement” (127). As with his previous novels, The Dragon Can’t Dance and The Wine of Astonishment, Russell observes, “Lovelace crafts enduring characters, all of whom wrestle with the challenges of national development… and the historic disenfranchisement of blacks" (109). Yet with the democratization of the narrative in Salt, which at times veers seemingly toward chaos, Russell again urges the development of an “African Atlantic literacy”: “Salt teaches us to dream and found the nation in steady ways based upon one multivocal foundation and writerly theoretical exemplum” (138).

The logical conclusion to Russell's hermeneutics is John Edgar Wideman’s The Cattle Killing in which the narrative strategy is built around the concept popularized by Mircea Eliade, Great Time, so that the “hegemony of Western linear, cause-and-effect discursive practice is exposed and critiqued” (143). Implicit in Wideman’s anlaysis is that the texts “symbolically ‘redress’ racist historical misrepresentation” (143). Specifically, this has meant that Wideman’s stories uncover “’false prophecies’ (Wideman’s phrase for dominant racist discourses, i.e. the doctrine paradigm of race)” which leads “black subjects to internalize a self-hatred that results in the destruction and death of black bodies” (144). Wideman’s use of Great Time, in which human agency derives from acts of imagination, subverts the idea of linear time and liberates the individual, especially New World Africans, from Western epistemological constructs.

Although Russell’s conclusions suggest that Legba’s influence can only be recognized in disruptions of form and other variations, Legba’s Crossing signals a new dimension in Black Atlantic hermeneutics. The consolidation of paradigms such as the “jazz novel,” Legba Principle, “quilting,” and Great Time are essential because they expand our understanding of the authorial choices of Johnson, Lorde, Cliff, Lovelace, and Wideman and increase our “African Atlantic literacy" of which Russell has become its most lucid advocate.

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March 19, 2010

Faculty in Print @ Miami Dade College: Geoffrey Philp


Geoffrey Philp, chair of the college-prep department at North Campus, has published an essay, “My Favorite Florida Place,” in the spring issue of Forum, the official magazine of the Florida Humanities Council. His article blends his family’s biography with the history of the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk.
 
A widely published author, Professor Philp writes a literary blog and has written a children’s book, Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories; a novel, Benjamin, My Son; two collections of short stories, Uncle Obadiahand the Alien and Who's Your Daddy?: And Other Stories, and five poetry collections: Exodus and Other Poems, Florida Bound, hurricane center, xango music and Twelve Poems and A Story for Christmas. His latest collection, Dub Wise, will be published in September 2010.  Professor Philp will be reading from his most recently published short-story collection, Who’s Your Daddy?, on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.

Professor Philp has worked at the College since 1979 as a peer tutor, paraprofessional, adjunct and full-time professor in the college prep and English departments. He holds a master's degree from the University of Miami, where he taught English, Caribbean, African and African-American literature, and was awarded James Michener fellowships in 1991-1992.


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Book Launch: Dog-Heart @ Bookophilia, March 26, 2010

“Dog-Heart –the tale of a child caught in the clash between the two Jamaicas.”

Diana McCaulay, former newspaper columnist and well-known environmental activist has turned a new page in her career with the 2010 release of her first novel Dog-Heart. Published by Peepal Tree Press, who has a reputation for publishing works of excellence by Caribbean writers like Kwame Dawes and Jan Carew, Dog Heart is a stunning new book that leaves you wondering what else this writer is capable of.

The novel tells the story of the well-meaning attempt of a middle class Jamaican single-mother to transform the life of a boy from the inner city. The book is fast paced and absorbing, full of realistic drama and action as it plays out in present-day Kingston. The novel deals seriously with issues of race, class, taking responsibility for social change and the complexity of relationships between people of different backgrounds. By telling the story in the voice of both the boy, Dexter and the woman, Sahara, Dog-Heart effortlessly highlights the “two Jamaicas” that coexist in one small space.

Diana explained that she wrote her first story at the age of 7 and since then, always wanted to become a writer. When asked what she would say to those who might say that a woman from the upper middle-class had no “right” to tell this story in the voice of Dexter, Diana replied, “What I would want to know from readers is whether the story works. Did they believe Dexter, did they hear him and feel his world? If they did, then it worked.”

The launch of Dog-Heart is scheduled for 6:30 pm on March 26, 2010 at Bookophilia the bookstore located at 92 Hope Road. Bookophilia owner Andrea Dempster commented; “Diana has in one fell swoop placed herself firmly on the list of new writers to watch in the Caribbean. This is the kind of book that we love - it’s easy to read and so thought-provoking. I’m really happy to be able to invite everyone to come and hear her tell the story of Sahara and Dexter on Friday night.”

Diana McCaulay is the Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust, and is an outspoken advocate for Jamaica’s natural environment. She also wrote a popular opinion column for the Gleaner for many years and her short stories have been published by the journal Caribbean Writer. She writes a blog called SnailWriter at www.dianamccaulay.com. Dog-Heart in manuscript form was the Gold Medal Winner in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s 2008 creative Writing Competition. She will also be the recipient of an award at the Amazing Woman Awards Ceremony in May 2010.


Praise for Dog-Heart

“The expendability of life in the ghetto and the perpetual injustice meted out to its inhabitants by the state and so-called civil society lie at the heart of this tale of post-colonial darkness…McCaulay showcases her formidable writing skills in this ambitious, heart-breaking work to excellent effect…the mirror McCaulay relentlessly holds up doesn’t let anyone off the hook, least of all those who read this book without flinching.”
~Annie Paul, University of the West indies, Mona, Kingston



If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview please call (876)978-5248 or email andread@bookophilia.com



Contact:

Andrea Dempster
92 Hope Road
Kingston 6
Tel: (876) 322-1979
Email: andread@bookophilia.com

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March 17, 2010

"My Favorite Florida Place" @ Florida Forum

MY FAVORITE FLORIDA PLACE
By Geoffrey Philp 


We were two college kids—sea-crossed lovers from Colombia and Jamaica—and our families, divided by race and religion, were opposed to our relationship. We also didn’t have a lot of money, and we needed somewhere to go after the movies so we could talk and get to know each other. My wife’s family had spent many summers on Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, so when she suggested the beach as a rendezvous, I agreed. Little did I know then, 27 years ago, that the place would enchant me as much as it had enchanted her parents.


An excerpt from Forum magazine which is on sale @ Florida Humanities Council.

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March 16, 2010

"42, for Lorna Goodison" by Derek Walcott & the "Envy Test"





In “42, for Lorna Goodison” published last week in The Guardian, Derek Walcott was up to one of his old tricks: a thematic variation on the trope of the landscape as text. 

And, yes, I had to work through what Seamus Heaney calls the "envy test" with the formal aspects of the poem: the casual flow of the rhyme scheme (abab, cdcd, efef, ghgh, ijjhi) and his rhyming of “Presbyterian” with “terrain” and “dressmaker” and “Jamaica.”

What a wicked man, eh?



42
for Lorna Goodison

This prose has the gait of a mule urged up a mountain road,
a slope with wild strawberries; yes, strawberries grow there,
and pines also flourish; native trees from abroad,
and coffee-bush shining in the crisp blue air
fanning the thighs of the mountains. Pernicious ginger
startles around corners and crushed lime
leaves its memory on thumb and third finger,
each page has a freshness of girlhood's time,
when, by a meagre brook the white scream
of an egret beats with the same rhythm as crows
circling invisible carrion in their wide dream;
commas sprout like thorn-bush alongside this curved prose
descending into some village named Harvey River
whose fences are Protestant. A fine Presbyterian
drizzle blesses each pen with its wooden steeple over
baking zinc roofs. Adjectives are modestly raised in this terrain,
this side-saddle prose on its way to the dressmaker
passes small fretwork balconies, drying clothes
in a yard fragrant as Monday; this prose
has the sudden smell of a gust of slanted rain
on scorching asphalt from the hazed hills of Jamaica.

From White Egrets.

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