May-July 2019: Why Caribbean Women?

#ReadCaribbean

As part of the #ReadCaribbean challenge I wanted to take the next months to highlight books written by women of colour who are from Caribbean heritage. For the next three months at BookOfCinz Book Club we will be reading debut novels by women of Jamaican heritage. They include:

  • May: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • June: Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
  • July: The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

So why these three specific novels? For these five reasons:

  1. Debut Novels

I cannot say this enough; I absolutely love reading debut novels from Caribbean Authors. There is a feeling of such authenticity picking up a debut novel and generally these novels offer a new and refreshing take on “old” themes and conflicts. Two of the three authors- Sara Collins and Candice Carty-Williams released their debut novel in 2019, Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes the Sun was released in 2016. I think it will be interesting to see how each debut novel tackles a theme that we’ve read about but never seen in portrayed in a certain way. For example, in Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn tackles colourism and the tourist industry in Jamaica. We get an unadulterated look into how communities and people’s lives are destroyed to make way for the construction of major hotels in the tourist area. Dennis-Benn doesn’t shy away from showing that not everything is “irie mon” in Jamaica.

 

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  1. Caribbean Women Authors

I love reading books written by women of colour of Caribbean heritage. It is always great picking up a book and feeling like the characters represent you in some way. For me, I love when I read a book that refers to my culture, heritage and history, more specifically when it is done in an authentic way. In Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie we read about a young woman from Jamaican heritage trying to navigate the world. Williams does a good job of using the main character- Queenie to change some of the narrative her Jamaican Grandparents have about mental illness and the stigma attached to it and I felt that was something that really resonated with me.

 

 

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  1. Themes Discussed

A lot of themes are discussed in new and interesting ways in these three novels. From mother-daughter relationships, colorism, father-daughter relationship, mental health, power and corruption, courage and love. I never get tired of reading about a mother-daughter and father-daughter relationships, especially as it relates to book with characters from Caribbean heritage. I think these three books gives three distinct look into these kind of relationships and it’s interesting to see how it all plays out because of different circumstances and the time the book was set.

 

  1. Strong Female Leads

Who doesn’t love books with strong female leads, even if we don’t necessarily agree with all their choices… looking at you Queenie. In reading about these flawed characters- Queenie, Thandie and Frannie we recognize that they are all faced with difficult choices and situations. In Sara Collin’s The Confessions of Frannie Langton we meet Frannie who is being held in the Old Bailey for the presumed murder of a couple she works for. It is only through a series of confessions that we get to know the real Frannie and the circumstances that led to her being held for murder. Frannie is not just any enslaved individual, she grew up on a plantation in Jamaica where her mistress taught her to read and she was also the apprentice to a “mad scientist”. Yes, it is not every day you pick up a book a read about a strong female lead like Frannie.

 

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  1. I Loved Them

If the last four points wasn’t enough to convince you that these three books are definitely worth picking up… does it help that I loved all three? These three books come highly recommended by me and I do hope you will join me in reading these three books in the upcoming months.

 

There you have it, the three books we will be reading for the next three months. If you will be reading along, please contact me at bookofcinz@outlook.com or follow me on Instagram @bookofcinz

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