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A Taste of Huracan at Redbones

Diana McCaulay reads at Redbones

“I thought I would be able to affect a reclusive mysteriousness. People would ask me for interviews and I’d decline them,” Diana McCaulay told the small audience gathered to hear her read from her novel Huracan, at Redbones the Blues Cafe, recently. The audience chuckled lightly at the revelation of her delusion, as McCaulay explained that her experience as a novelist has been far different from what she had imagined when she began her writing journey.

McCaulay explained that  after her first novel, Dog Heart, she had quickly learnt that public performance was a critical part of the process, as the novelist would have to read publicly or perish. She self-mockingly noted that for writers like Kei Miller (The Same Earth, The Last Warner Woman) who are adept at performance, that was great, but for her, not so much.

Diana McCaulay reads and chats with her audience at RedbonesWith the sparse and quiet audience, the reading turned out to be a rather intimate and short affair that was almost abandoned mid-stream. Though McCaulay has clearly embraced, or at least accepted, the necessity of the public reading, it appeared that she is yet to select the segments of her novel which can best grip an audience. The reading, though showcasing talented writing craft, was interesting but not overly engaging, which possibly explained why the audience was so quiet and which McCaulay interpreted as boredom.She attempted to abandon the reading after segments related to two of the novel's main characters, although she had promised read segments related to all three. But the audience, though small and quiet, was paying attention and requested that she continue.

Huracan crosses three centuries of Jamaican history going through three characters, Zachary Macaulay based on the real life 18th century abolitionist; John Macaulay a baptist minister and McCaulay’s great grandfather; and Leigh Macaulay a contemporary Jamaican woman who returns home after several years abroad. “These are all people who came,” she said, be. McCaulay read from a section of the novel related to each.

She explained that the novel was named for the Taino word for hurricane, from which the English word is derived. “The reason I called it Huracan is that there are no Taino in its pages and I wanted to pay homage to the first Jamaicans,” she said.

McCaulay spoke at length about the stories and interests which brought her to the novel. She explained that she had always been interested in the reasons motivating people’s arrival to the island, as well as her own family history.

Huracan is McCaulay’s second novel. It is published by Peepal Tree Press and was launched in July 2012.