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Caribbean Books to Heat up Your Bookshelves for the Summer and Beyond

Caribbean Books to fill summer and beyond

The summer is heating up to record breaking temperatures. So it’s time to grab a towel, your glasses and head to the nearest beach, back verandah or hammock with a great read (and hopefully something cool to drink). To help, we’ve put together this list books from Caribbean writers that are creating a heat all their own.

Nicole Dennis-Benn's Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun

Baigey kites have nothing on debut author Nicole Dennis-Benn this summer! She ‘buss-way’ and is soaring high. Her novel Here Comes the Sun is a story of three women that explores race, class, and sexuality in Jamaica. The novel is being touted as a look beyond the brochures that sell the island as a paradise into the starker realities that confront and often grinds down the people on whose backs those resorts are built.

What are critics saying:

“Here Comes the Sun is deceptively well-constructed, with slow and painful reveals right through the end.” - The New York Times

Kei Miller's Augustown

Augustown

Kei Millier’s third novel Augustown promises to hit you with the power of a literary ‘attaclaps’ (read apocalypse). Set in August Town, or a somewhat fictionalized variant of it, the novel moves fluidly between the time of ‘The flying preacher man’ Alexander Bedward in 1920s Jamaica and the 1980s. It is a novel of myth and mystery, inequality and aspiration. Augustown was shortlisted in the 2015 Una Marson Award.

What are critics saying?

Augustown has the feel of a ticking High Noon but also suggests that a bomb has previously exploded, the fallout already lingering uncomfortably in the air; it has left its impressions hidden inside the garrison community’s bodies, and shapes their hurt.”  - The Guardian

Kevin Jared Hosein - The Repenters

The Repenters

Kevin Jared Hosein was declared one of the region’s writers to watch on winning the regional prize for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story competition in 2015. With The Repenters, his first full-length novel, Hosein digs into the underbelly of Port of Spain as it explores the darker side of narrator Jordon Sant. 

What are critics saying?

“This novel portrays the swift dissolution of childhood innocence, told by an unorthodox narrator with more than his fair share of cryptic concealments: it may well deepen Hosein’s triumphant advent.” - The Trinidad Guardian

Olive Senior's The Pain Tree

The Pain Tree

Olive Senior’s newest collection of short stories is filled with wit, wisdom. The Pain Tree copped the 2016 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, earning its place among this summer’s must-reads. With stories that span across 100 years, the collection promises to be timeless. 

What are critics saying?

“This collection of short fiction from Senior is a beautiful if uneven assemblage...Even with its occasional failings, this collection is well worth reading.” - Publishers Weekly

Jacqueline Bishop's The Gymnast and Other Positions

The Gymnast and Other Positions

With the Bocas Prize for non-fiction under its belt, Jacqueline Bishop’s The Gymnast and Other Positions clearly has far more than an intriguing title going for it. The collection marries short stories, essays, and interviews showing it is as flexible in genre as the gymnast evoked in the title. 

 

What are critics saying?

The Gymnast and Other Positions somersaults off the edge of complacently told narratives from its opening story.” - The Caribbean Beat

Angel's Share by Garfield Ellis

The Angel’s Share

With a cross-country journey around Jamaica as its backdrop, Garfield Ellis presents an excursion into the hearts of two men and the fraught and fractured father-son relationship which holds them together. The Angel’s Share was shortlisted in the 2015 Una Marson Award.

What are critics saying?

“Ellis . . . has an exquisitely unique writing voice and the world should not be without it. Nowhere is this more clear than in reading Ellis’s latest offering, The Angels’ Share. . . . [The novel] is a deeply moving meditation on regret—and the hope for redemption.” - The Toronto Star

The Bone Readers by Jacob Ross

The Bone Readers

With a September release date, The Bone Readers falls just outside of the summer, but since it’s always summer in the Caribbean we are including it in the fold. In the Bone Readers, Jacob Ross marries crime fiction with the tradition of the Caribbean literary novel. It is a fast-paced story where the protagonists are pitted against the twin ills of corruption and wanton inefficiencies that dog criminal investigations in the region. 

What Are Critics Saying?

“The first in a Camaho Quartet series, The Bone Readers spills fresh blood on pristine sandy beaches with more sharpness and sleight of hand than Agatha Christie herself.” - The Caribbean Beat

YA Fiction

All three winners of last year’s Burt Award for Caribbean literature are out this summer. So we added them to the list. 

Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh

The Children of the Spider

Guyanese debut author Imam Baksh presents a fast-paced blend of Afro-Caribbean and greek myth with this almost dystopian look at contemporary Guyana. Moving between two worlds, it presents the contrast between the lush greenery of Guyana’s hinterland, the decay of the city and the harsh dryness of the fictional world of Zolpash from which the Spider gods threaten the world’s safety. Winner of the first place of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature (2015)

What are critics saying?

“With dialogue that deftly stays authentic while bridging the worlds of Guyana’s colonial past and its modern state, this story is magical realism at its best.” - Kirkus starred review

Gone to Drift by Diana Macaulay

Gone to Drift

When Lloyd’s grandfather, a veteran fisherman goes missing, the young boy refuses to accept that the old man has simply ‘Gone to Drift’. The story follows Lloyd’s search for his grandfather even though everyone tries to convince him that the search is futile. The story combines the adventure novel with Macaulay’s love for the environment. Gone to Drift has two awards under its belt, earning second place in the Burt Award as well as winning the 2015 Vic Reid Award. 

What are critics saying?

“Like the tides and currents that swirl around our island, this young adult novel carries the reader along – floating, spinning and sometimes swerving unexpectedly, like a small boat on the vast face of the ocean.” - Petchary’s Blog  

Lynn Joseph's Dancing in the Rain

Dancing in the Rain

Aftershocks of 9/11 continue to ripple across the world and along with the infrastructural damage and the headache that international travel became is the emotional trauma of those who lost loved ones among the rubble of the once iconic edifice. In Dancing in the Rain, Lynn Joseph sifts among the rubble of this destruction to present a novel that is haunting yet beautiful and uplifting. Dancing in the Rain won third place in the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature (2015)

What are critics saying?

“Beautifully placing moments of loss and grief on the page, Joseph turns tragedy into poetry and gives hope even in the darkest parts of these stories, linking the lives of the characters with almost musical orchestration. This book will break readers' hearts and then put them back together, in the best way.” - Kirkus starred review