Now that we’re home and locked down in these Quarantine Times, I’m trying to lean into the woman I was before becoming a blogger.
Back in the day, I used to read a LOT. I STAYED at the top of the reading pyramid on the classroom cork board. That continued until college. And over time, my reading-just-for-fun habits waned and eventually faded away almost entirely. I am ashamed to admit that now I’m more likely to read online instead of pick up a book. It’s time for that to change. I still LOVE books and want them in my life, but my reading pile is high, too high. Embarrassingly high. I’m trying to do better.
First step is sharing with you all what’s on my reading list. Second step is being more intentional about making specific book reading (versus online reading) time. Third is making this a category so I’ll write more often about books and authors of all kinds from here on out.
Expect to see more posts about books here, in addition to everything else! In my book category I’ll be sharing what I’m reading, what’s new, and maybe even some reviews or author interviews in the future. For now, here are some recent books I want to share. These are books that have been inspiring me, plus what’s new on my current reading list, plus a few books I think you may want to check out for yourself. The links below are Amazon affiliate links, so if you purchase any of these books you’re indirectly supporting Afrobella.com. Thank you!
This specific post is about Caribbean literature — specifically literature from and about my homeland, Trinidad and Tobago. I grew up studying Caribbean literature in high school and college. I learned to shape my own words by admiring authors like Naipaul, Selvon, Braithwaite, Kincaid, Danticat and Rhys. Caribbean literature continues to breathe and expand, and now there are some incredible new authors I’m admiring almost just as much.
I’m always looking for more books, so please feel free to comment or email me about your favorites or anything soon to be released. And a special shout out and thank you to the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival for connecting me to a few of these.
Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma – The story of protagonist Rosa Rendon is set in the 1700 and 1800’s and spans from Trinidad to Crow Nation in Bighorn, Montana. The scope of the story is huge and historically magnificent. This novel is vivid, beautifully written and truly worthy of the description of epic.
De Rightest Place by Barbara Jenkins – Imagine Cheers, but set in Trinidad and with a fierce, strong female central character to root for and love. De Rightest Place is the phenomenal follow-up novel to Barbara Jenkins’ debut collection of stories, Sic Transit Wagon – one of the best collections of Caribbean short stories I’ve read in recent years. I love her work, it is real and vibrant and heartbreaking and honest, and this book makes me laugh, it’s so familiar and relatable. I’ll also admit to a bit of possible bias because I grew up with her youngest daughter being my bestie and Aunty Barbara being my teacher at school, but honestly from the heart, her books are amazing. I highly recommend.
Golden Child by Claire Adam – For a haunting tale of danger and mystery set in a beautiful place, I would recommend Golden Child by Claire Adam. For those of us who grew up in Trinidad and experienced loss or witnessed crime in action or the after-effects thereof, this book can feel painfully familiar. Really well done and evocative of home for me.
Home Home by Lisa Allen Agostini – Home Home is a great little YA novel by the esteemed Lisa Allen Agostini. I loved this book for several reasons – it’s just refreshing, different and tells a story of a depressed Trinidadian teen sent to live in Canada with her out and proud lesbian auntie. Really well done, and left me wanting more.
Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud – I’m reading this now and I am swept away by the prose and structure that Ingrid Persaud uses in this novel about family, love, pain, and creating new paths. If you’re unfamiliar with Caribbean literature, you may not know that Love After Love is one of the most famous poems by the late Poet Laureate Derek Walcott (click here to read it). The title of the novel alone gave me high expectations and the voices of the characters take me home. So well done.
Those are the Caribbean literary fiction books that are at the top of my reading pile these days. Please share with me if you know of anything new, upcoming, or maybe something I missed that I should go back to check out!
Book cover images via Amazon