Read any good Barbadian books lately?
At the launch of Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo last year at Ocean Spray Apartments, a woman Linda and I were chatting with was interested in reading more books by local authors. She was middle-aged and felt she had, as a Bajan, been missing out on what her own writers had to say to her about the world in which we live.
To paraphrase Mavis Gallant, I take it for granted that to talk of Barbadian stories is to talk of stories in a specific context. This woman’s understanding of the need to read stories by writers of her own country suggested, encouragingly, that I wasn’t alone in this thinking.
Her only problem: Where to start?
She required a list; she didn’t know what was available apart from a title or two by Lamming or Callender. And Linda and I were sure there were many others like her, whether Bajan or simply interested in Barbadian literature.
That got us thinking and working.
For this Independence, in collaboration with the University Bookshop, Days Books, the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment, Barbados Today, the National Library Service, and the Barbados Association of Reading, ArtsEtc has come up with 12 Great Books Every Independent Barbadian Should Read, which we’ve run as an ad in Barbados Today and The Barbados Advocate.
Do check it out. It’s obviously not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive, or academically correct, but it is, we hope, a pleasantly surprising start.
Let us know how you find the books, or what selections you would make for future lists. We intend to do this every year for Barbados’ Independence until the shelves run dry. And, given the activity in Barbadian literature the last decade, and what was produced the previous century, we’re not expecting that to happen anytime soon.
Born free, you say? Then be free.
Read your writers. Enjoy your Independence.
—Robert Edison Sandiford
November 29, 2011