“Don’t Stop the Carnival,” is the renowned novel by Herman Wouk about a man facing a midlife crisis and running away to a Caribbean island in search of a life of harmony and meaning. This time of year, Grand Cayman celebrates its own carnivals that it doesn’t wish to stop: the annual Batabano and CAYmas carnivals. Both carnivals reflect Caribbean culture, so this month, I will look at some of the most celebrated Caribbean authors and novels from our region.
The Caribbean has a rich history of storytellers and poets that stretches back to the colonial era, but I want to focus on more modern authors. In recent years an explosion of popular Caribbean authors and Caribbean stories has emerged onto the world stage of literature. Notable names include Marlon James, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2015; Andrea Levy, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004; and most recently Claire Adam with her debut novel, “Golden Child.” This month even sees the release of Cayman’s Sara Collins’ book “The Confessions of Frannie Langton.”
Some of the books by Caribbean authors have been enjoyed and admired around the world in recent years. Marlon James’ book, “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” was a global bestseller. The book makes heavy use of patois and slang to portray his characters in this modern classic.
Andrea Levy’s book, “Long Song,” is set in Jamaica at the time of the slave emancipation. It follows the life of a young slave woman and the trials she endures during her life and the continued struggles that occur even once she is given her freedom. It is a stark reminder of the brutal history of many Caribbean nations and the people who would come to build these islands.
Claire Adam’s novel, “Golden Child,” tells a story of a Trinidadian boy lost in the rural countryside. His father must go after him, leaving his mother and twin brother to brood over their fears. This story is like its setting — beautiful and unsettling — and presents a masterpiece of love, loss and betrayal.
These novels have shown that the literary excellence of the Caribbean has by no means diminished and continues to reflect people who live in its countries.