In 2018 I decided to start BookOfCinz Book Club to meet and engage with Readers. I read a lot, but getting to sit and discuss one book with a group of persons, that experience in and of itself is unmatched. The BookOfCinz Book Club is part of the overall mission of getting persons to read, read more, read widely and read Caribbean.
For the last two years we have been meeting both offline and online to facilitate everyone outside of Trinidad and Tobago. Since the start of the Book Club we have seen over 100 unique Book Clubbers. We have had Book Clubbers from all over the Caribbean, the US, UK and as far as India. It’s been such a joy to see people reading books written by Women of Caribbean Heritage, Black Women and Women of Colour.
For 2021 we will continue to meet and read books that moves us, that gets under our skins and stay there, books we cannot shut up about. I do not take it for granted that you decided to join BookOfCinz Book Club and I do hope you will read with me for 2021. Sign up for BookOfCinz Book Club. Meet our 2021 BookOfCinz Book Club Picks
January | HIS ONLY WIFE BY PEACE MEDIE
I first read Peace Mede’s debut novel seven months ago and as soon as I started reading it my first thought was, “this needs more eyes!” Set in Ghana and marketed as “the Crazy Rich Asians of Ghana” it is much more than that. Mede puts forward feminism in contemporary Ghana and I could not get enough of it. For 2021, we are kicking off book club in Ghana.
February | THE MERMAID OF BLACH CONCH BY MONIQUE ROFFEY
Aren’t we a little too old to be reading and discussing Mermaids? NO! This is a story about a man falling in love with a Mermaid but it is a lot more than that. Roffey inserted themes of sexuality, how indigenous persons are treated and remnants of slavery. So much is happening on this fictional island and I cannot wait for you to experience it.
March | HOW THE ONE-ARMED SISTER SWEEPS HER HOUSE BY CHERIE JONES
Cherie Jones’ debut novel is set in a sea-side town in Barbados and it is atmospheric. How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House examines poverty, tourism and comes as a form of warning. The plot is truly engaging and this is a book we will discuss for hours.
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April | AFTERSHOCKS BY NADIA OWUSU
This is our first memoir for 2021, it is debut memoir that is visceral, beautifully written, and deeply moving, I did not want this book to end! The memoir Aftershocks is told in a non- linear way, we are taken to Rome, New York, Ghana, Tanzania, London and New York with the author piecing together her life. From being abandoned twice by her Armenian mother, to the death of her father, from battling with mental health issues, to racism, abandonment and trying to fit in. Owusu packs so much in less than 300 pages and it is done in the most beautiful way, I do not have the words to express. This is the April read and I cannot wait for you to experience Aftershocks.
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May | MANCHESTER HAPPENED BY JENNIFER NANSUBUGA MAKUMBI
In Jennifer Makumbi’s collection of stories, Manchester Happened we meet Ugandans who journey to England, specifically Manchester to make a life for themselves. The collection is separated into two sections, the first journeys with those who decided to leave and the second section takes us on a trip back with the characters who decided to visit Uganda after spending a significant amount of time in the UK. While we all know that everyone’s immigration story is different, Jennifer Makumbi was able to give the readers a diverse and nuance look with these twelve stories. Get ready to be immersed in the world of Ugandans as they they carve out lives for themselves at home and in Manchester.
June | DAYLIGHT COME BY DIANA MCCAULAY
It is not every day you pick up a book writing by a Caribbean author, set in the Caribbean and it is about climate change and I was here for ALL of it. The author expertly explored themes of grief, trauma, survival, mother-daughter relationships and morality. I wanted the book to have a solid 100 more pages because I didn’t want this story to end. The book gives me a Hunger Games but without the ceremony, just a band of women doing everything to survive.
Diana McCaulay is an Environmental Activist in Jamaica and I loved that she used her gift of writing to tell a timely and relevant story.
July | PLEASANTVIEW BY CELETE MOHAMMED
Let me just say, this is hands down, one of my favorite 2021 Read Caribbean Release. I am blown away by how impeccable this book was. The characters were full formed, the plot was engaging and I felt the author did a brilliant job of giving you a bird eye’s view of this community. I literally feel like I was at the top looking down on them going about their business with all their troubles and secrets tagging along behind them. It is not every day you pick up a contemporary collection of stories set in Trinidad and you know that this is distinctly Trini. WOW.
August | BIRD SUMMONS BY LELIA ABOULELA
Wow! What an adventure! Perfect exploration of sisterhood!
In Leila Aboulela’s Bird Summons we meet three women who are going on a road trip to the Scottish Highlands for a week. What could possibly go wrong? On the road trip is Salma, Moni and Iman. They all decided to go when everyone in the Muslim Women’s ground decided to pull out… out of sheer pettiness Salma decided she is going, just to show everyone who pulled out, Moni and Iman decided to join here.
September | BUTTER HONEY PIG BREAD BY FRANCESCA EKWUYASI
Brilliant does not begin to cover this gorgeously written debut novel… WOW!
Butter, Honey Pig Bread is told from the perspective of the mother, Kambirinachi and her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye. The story opens up with Kambirinachi who believes she is an Oghanje- a spirit that plagues women by being born and dying during childhood. This spirit keeps coming back and the woman is faces with a series of dead children. Kambirinachi finally decides to end the haunting by staying alive to be with her human family… but what is the price she will pay to her spirit family who she abandoned?
October | THE DAY I FELL OFF MY ISLAND BY YVONNE BAILEY-SMITH
Like you fell off your island and there was no one there to catch you…
Yvonne Bailey-Smith debut novel follows the life of Erna Mullings from her life growing up on Jamaica and leaving to go England to live with her mother. Erna Mullings spends majority of her life growing up in rural Jamaica with her grandmother, grandfather and her four siblings. Her mother decided to leave her children back in Jamaica so she could go make a better life for them in England and then send for them… I know, you’ve read this story before, right? (Spoiler alert: you haven’t!)
November | HOW BEAUTIFUL WE WERE BY IMBOLO MBUE
I know nothing about how a girl makes men pay for their crimes, but I have the rest of my life to figure it out.
In Imbolo Mbue’s sophomore novel How Beautiful We Were we are taken to a fictional village called Kosawa which is on the continent of Africa. Kosawa is home to the villagers who once live a simple life farming and living off the land. That is until an American Oil company called Pexton found oil close to the village and started drilling. Kosawa which was once a fertile and thriving village is now home to children dying from toxic air and fumes. The land is barren and infertile, the river is polluted and water from the well can lead to death.
The themes of love, marriage, education, death, allyship, what activism looks like. There is so much to talk about and dive into. Did I mention the writing was just chef’s kiss. I could go on and on, but what I will say is that book was worth the wait!
December | WHAT STORM, WHAT THUNDER BY MYRIAM CHANCY
The author said, This novel is dedicated to the 250,000 to 300,000 individuals estimated to have perished in January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti.
When you pick up a book and this is the dedication you know you are in for an emotional, moving, tender and brutal read. That is what you are in when you pick up What Storm, What Thunder /
Told from the perspectives of different characters living and working in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake of 7.0 magnitude shook. The author takes us into the deepest part of their lives as they experience this disaster and how they try to rebuild what is left of their lives. The story is written from the POVs of over eight persons, while we hear about them, they also tell us about the other characters we’ve heard from. Myriam Chancy masterfully relates what is happen before, during and after the earthquake. I could not put down this novel.