Returning once more to our literary Caribbean Seas as we try to move forward with exploring our current literary offerings, and how we might best make them known, we discover a little ant named Ari. Ari is an ant determined in his quest to move a crumb. It’s the little things, it’s the little efforts both individually and collectively as a region that allows for future strides. In this novel Try, Ari, Try! is geared toward passing on a passion for perseverance in the upcoming generation, as author Tracia Agard enters the animal kingdom for the tale of triumph over trial. Ari the ant becomes frustrated and then viola!
For those of us who read Part I, we know to delve into the depths of Amazon, since its where we can, fortunately, find most of our Caribbean literary offerings. As for Try Ari Try! some of our authors are trying to increase access points by also providing access via their webpages and so it is with Ari, Publisher’s website: http: //sbprabooks.com/TraciaJAgard.
A counsellor and an educator in Barbados with over fifteen years’ experience, Tracia Agard tells of how, after working with students of all ages online both locally and internationally, she was “inspired to write this book while coordinating a motivational program for primary schools.” Agard discovered “that storytelling was an effective way of communicating values to students…. an exciting way to teach children perseverance.”
Tracia J. Agard is the founder of STEP UP Academie, which offers online personal, academic, and career success service to young professionals and students.
Within our region, we appreciate and applaud the men who step up to their role as fathers. Many a tale though can readily be told of the growing pains that some of our boys endure with the absence of their dads, and possibly many a man would want to tell how it might require something like The Angel’s Share of grace to work through father-son conflicts to the point of reconciliation. Guess what? Jamaican Garfield Ellis does not leave us to wonder but tells of protagonist Everton Dorril, an upcoming young professional whose stepmother calls him one day to tell him his dad is missing. Sure enough, Everton learns his father was off ‘tracking down a woman.’ https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/The-Angels-Share-Ellis-Garfield-/232641637297
The Globe and Mail says of this novel, “It’s a novel about how children can never really know their parents, about the unique and often strange relationship between fathers and sons, about forgiveness, and(most of all) about regret.” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/garfield-ellis-traces-the-origin-of-regret-in-new-novel-the-angels-share/article28438319/. While the Toronto Star writes, “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.”
Garfield Ellis is the author of four other published books: Flaming Hearts, Wake Rasta, Such As I Have, For Nothing at All, and Till I’m Laid to Rest. Ellis’ work has appeared in several international journals such as the Caribbean Writer, Callaloo, Calabash, Small Axe, Anthurium and Obsidian III. He was awarded the Una Marson Prize for Adult Literature for his collection Flaming Hearts (1997), and later for Till I’m Laid To Rest (2000). Ellis also won the 1990 Heinemann/Lifestyle Short Story Competition and the Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Short Fiction in 2000 and 2005.
Another author of multiple publications, ten novels, and a memoir, is Elizabeth Nunez. Further to completing high school in Trinidad, Nunez migrated to the US where she is currently an English Professor at Hunter College, the City University of New York. Dr. Nunez’s offerings include Anna In-Between, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and received starred reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Another of her novels, Boundaries, was also selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice and was nominated for a 2012 NAACP Image Award.
As for Dr. Nunez’s most recent novel, O, the Oprah Magazine had this to say, King Lear in the Caribbean–except in this novel, the flattery and deceit of Glynis (Goneril) and Rebecca (Regan) lose out to the principled, honest love of their younger sister, Corinne (Cordelia).” The novel, Even in Paradise, explores that whole issue of family and land distribution within our Caribbean cultural context, introducing too the social milieu that is our region along with the interactions between our varied racial groups and social classes in our day-to-day existence. It does all this beginning with the base of a Shakespearean King Lear dynamic set right within our regional context in the isle of Barbados.
To give a sneak peek of Even in Paradise, Peter Ducksworth is a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry who retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear who hoped “That future strife may be prevented now.” But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth. Once again this offering can be discovered on Amazon, as well as on the African American
Literature Book Club. https://www.amazon.com/Even-Paradise-Elizabeth-Nunez/dp/1617754404/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Even in Paradise is joined by Four Taxis Facing North, another novel providing a portrait of our Caribbean isles, this time, Trinidad. An introduction by Lawrence Scott starts us on the journey again to explore interactions both among and within the classes, while also exploring class and race in context, even as one of the protagonist’s notes that in the US she’s the only black girl in most of her classes, “though at home no one would call me black.”
Featured on Peepal Tree Press, Four Taxis Facing North paints a picture of life as a ‘middle class Trinidadian’. These stories focus on characters from both sides of the social divide – and their infrequent and often uncomfortable interactions. Even as they are beset by fears about the future, the Walcott-Hackshaw’s women are also busy with their responsibilities, their relationships with husbands, partners, children, friends, and foes. They deal with absent, unfaithful or abusive husbands and display differing degrees of self and social awareness. http://www.peepaltreepress.com/authors/elizabeth-walcott-hackshaw
Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw is a Senior Lecturer in French and Francophone Literatures in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. Her publications include Border Crossings: A Trilingual Anthology of Caribbean Women Writers (2012), co-edited with Nicole Roberts, and Four Taxis Facing North, her first collection of short stories, published in 2007. Four Taxis Facing North was translated into Italian in 2010 by Giuseppe Sofo.
Walcott-Hackshaw left Trinidad at 18 years old to study at Boston University where she received a BA degree in French and English, followed by a Masters and Ph.D. in French. Her first short story was published in 1987 whilst studying in Boston. In 1992 she returned to Trinidad, where she lives with her husband and two teenage children. Her father is the Nobel Prize for Literature-winning writer Derek Walcott.
No matter what direction the taxis might have been facing, many of our Caribbean diaspora might be found on an “American Street.” This was true for Haitian-born Ibi Zoboi. Zoboi migrated to New York with her mother when she was four years old.
As Ibi adjusted to the streets of New York, she took to reading and writing science-fiction, fantasy and mythology. This held her in good stead as today Ibi Zobodi holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults.
Her debut novel, American Street has received five starred reviews and her next YA novel, PRIDE, is due out in the Fall of 2018. As with some of our other Caribbean authors, Zobodi books can be found online at www.ibizoboi.net.
Truly, her love of writing shows as her short story, “Old Flesh Song”, has been published in the award-winning Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, a collection of African American speculative fiction. She also received an award from the Women Writers of Haitian Descent for her short story “At the Shores of Dawn”, which was published in the One? Respe! literary journal, and won “Tricky Talker of the Year”, an annual tall-tale contest presented by the Afrikan Folk Heritage Circle.
American Street is an evocative and powerful story where author Ibi Zobodi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture. (Listed here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30256109-american-street)
In keeping with ‘the American Dream,’ protagonist Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie or ‘the good life’. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to deal with her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. No doubt American Street is a version of a story so many of our Diaspora can tell. https://www.amazon.com/American-Street-Ibi-Zoboi/dp/0062473042/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Read Part l of the two-part series here
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby holds a Master of Counselling and Bachelor of Psychology. She is a dynamic therapist, trained mediator; and educator since 2000. In addition to being a trained educator, mediator, and therapist, she is a certified Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Professional. Kerriann has also trained in cyber counseling and holds clinical registration with Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) & Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).
In mid-October 2015 she initiated operations of KarryOn geared toward the provision of a variety of enhancement and developmental services for the individual, groups and the organization; e-Coaching/Counseling, Mediation, EAP Services and the creative presentation of psycho-social information. She can be reached at email@example.com.