Caribbean Reads. Celebrating Our Region's Rich Literature.
We have known from a very young age that the written and musical heritage of our Caribbean is profuse. And the creators are prolific. Drawing from history and present societal structures, these artists construct worlds that were, are and could be and engender within the Caribbean community utmost pride, devotion and love. As Jamaicans, my sister and I could generate an exhaustive lists of such titans from our tiny island, but so could any other book lover from all other Caribbean islands. There is no doubt that the talent pool in these islands runs deep and that can be attributed to the legacy passed down from our African ancestors. Storytelling as we know, was an integral part of every tribe and village, and each had their own unique way of documenting their culture. So is it any surprise that a region that has roots from the Great Continent should be any less talented?
So for the month of June, we were very pleased to take part in the #CaribbeanReads challenge for #CaribbeanHeritageMonth. Where we would get our hands on books by authors we have heard of, but might not have had any recent interactions with their work. Because for us, reading Caribbean has always been a part of our lives, from basic school(kindergarten) right up to college and university. We grew up watching our parents read, so of course that became very important to us. Through novels like A Cow Called Boy(C. Everard Palmer), Young Warriors & Sixty-Five(Victor Stafford Reid), and Escape to Last Man Peak(Jean D'Costa), we were introduced, through children, pre-teens and teens to different time periods of our country's history, what was happening and how it was dealt with. We were introduced to literature from and around the Caribbean, as well as literature from England and America in works by Sam Selvon(A Brighter Sun & Ways of Sunlight),William Shakespeare(Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice & The Taming of the Shrew), Ian Serraillier(The Silver Sword) and Shane(Jack Schaefer).
But when placed on the world stage, the writings by Caribbean authors may not have the same reach and weight as novels by authors from England and North America. So having a challenge like this is really important to shine the spotlight on the immense wealth of talent that resides within all islands of the Caribbean and within the Diaspora. Thanks to Cindy (@BookofCinz), Sara (@addendumadventure), Kaymara (@decentred_lit_ja), Gail (@gailrenatta), Gizelle (@gizellewho), Akilah (@ifthisisparadise), Kerine (@kayyyreads), Allison (@miss.bibliofancy), Anna (@never_withouta_book), Suzanne (@suzannebhagan), Donna (@thisbrowngirlreads), and Apphia (@trinisoulflower) for coming together and developing this very important and impactful challenge across the social media platforms, aimed at sharing their love for all things literary from the Caribbean. We dove in, discovered and rediscovered books that we loved and books that we have come to love. Not only is this important, it is also fun and educational. This challenge not only saw reading books we know, but those we had no idea about, and that was great. Because now we have found authors from other Caribbean islands that have now been placed on our must read list.
Through the social media platforms we utilize, we were able to interact with and also share, along with the architects of #ReadCaribbean books from our island-Jamaica and other islands across the region with other readers from all across the world (we hope). This challenge could very well have introduced a few or a lot of readers to Caribbean literature, and whatever the number, we are very happy to have been a part of it. We encourage everyone to #ReadCaribbean as these stories will delight you, surprise you, inspire you, and touch you. You will not be disappointed.