BookOfCinz Book Club is going into its fifth year in 2023. To celebrate we are changing things up a little bit. When I first started this book club, I wanted it to be a space where we celebrate Women- Caribbean Women, Women of Caribbean heritage, Black Women and Women of Colour. We managed to do this successfully over the last four years!
For our fifth year, we are opening up the Book Club selection a bit by reading Caribbean Men! Yes, you read that right, we will be reading men! Not just any men… some amazing Caribbean male authors and I cannot wait to introduce you to their work!
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. For the last four 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 350 unique Book Clubbers. We have had Book Clubbers from all over the Caribbean, the US, UK, Europe and as far as India.
For 2023 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 hope you make the time to Read, read More, read Widely and READ CARIBBEAN in 2023. Come join book club and read with us! You can purchase the book club pick in Trinidad at Uppercrust, in the UK or the US.
Sign up for BookOfCinz Book Club here. Meet our 2023 BookOfCinz Book Club Picks.
January | NERUDA ON THE PARK by Cleyvis Natera
Neruda on the Park explores the age old question of “where is home”, is it a place? What is it? Home, she told herself, could be a place, a person, a feeling, at times, a profession, the end result of a long pursuit. A fluid thing, for sure, but precious.
I absolutely loved reading this book and I think a lot of people will enjoy it as well. In Neruda on the pack we meet the Guerreros, they have spent majority of their lives in Nothar Park, home to mostly Dominicans in New York. One day they wake up to see demolition taking place and a new condo being built. You know that this means… the neighbourhood is about to change.
February | THINGS I HAVE WITHELD by KEI MILLER
This is what I call a brilliant collection of essays! This be read and studied widely! Brilliant! In Kei Miller’s long-awaited collection of essays Things I Have Withheld , he exams in the author note, silence, his body and how it is viewed by others. This is examination is continued throughout the collection. The title of the book Miller notes, was taken from poet, Dionne Brand. In each the essays he says, is an act of faith, an attempt to put my trust in words again. My attempt to offer, at long last, a clearer vocabulary to the things I have only ever mumbled…
River Sing Me Home is a sprawling debut novel set during the 1834s that takes us to Barbados, British Guiana (now Guyana) and Trinidad and Tobago. The book opens with Rachel, an enslaved mother, running away from Providence plantation in Barbados. The Emancipation Act of 1834 was announced and declares they are no longer enslaved, but the slave master has other plans for them. Rachel decides she will never be free, unless she runs. Rachel wants to find her five children who were taken from her in the most gruesome way.
Fresh, biting, laugh out loud funny, chilling, relatable and brazen! A debut collection that you won’t soon forget! If I Survive You is a collection of interconnected short stories told from a Jamaican family living in Miami. While it is a collection of short stories, it does read like a novel because each story connects and move the plot along, while being told from the point of view of different family members.
May | MAAME by JESSICA GEORGE
In Maame we meet Maddie, in her twenties and should be living her best London life but with everyone of her family member shirking their duties she ends up being the primary caretaker for her father who suffers from Parkinson’s. Her mother spends half the year in London and the other half in Ghana but makes sure to ask for money and send strongly worded text telling Maddie how to live her life. Maddie’s older brother left the family home a long time to live and travel with his friends. He checks in, but his life mostly involves his friends who he’s made his family. Maddie must take care of her family, go to work at a very unrewarding job where her boss is unreasonable, unstable and chaotic- all while being the only Black person present. It is exhausting.
Kevin Jared Hosein is an expert storyteller, how he is able to tell nuanced story rich with history, and explores classism, racism, religion, traditions, jealousy, love and violence is truly magical. Hungry Ghost is rich in atmosphere, you feel like you are transported to Barrack and immersed into the lives of the people there. You get so invested in how the story will go and that all goes back to Hosein’s writing. The writing in this book is absolutely impeccable, the characters’ stories are told with care and deeply tender. You feel for each character and you recognize that they are each going through so much and I loved that the author made them characters we could relate to.
The God of Good Looks is filled with characters you cannot help but cheer for. The entire cast all are fresh, entertaining and engaging. McIvor takes us to Trinidad and Tobago we learn so much about the culture, history and the make-up industry. What I loved is that we journey with Bianca as she comes into her truth. I love how realistic her character was, you truly feel for her as someone who has little friends, is a social pariah and not sure where her path is in life, added to that, she’s got no family support or her mother to take care of her. I love that it was set in Trinidad, and YES, I will admit, it took awhile for me to wrap my head around a story set in a high fashion make up house being in Trinidad but once I got use to it I really enjoyed it.
August | ROOTLESS by KRYSTALE ZARA APPIAH
A truly heart breaking novel about motherhood, tradition, marriage, regret, love, family and what it means to lose yourself for others. The author covered the theme in such a layered and brilliant way. It is one of those books you read and you can feel your heart constricting, because while you don’t want the book to end, you need to find out what happens. A truly brilliant book that EVERYONE will love!
Told from the perspective of the two daughters and an omniscience narrative this reads like a fairytale where you get insights into how things will end. I absolutely LOVED the very present narrator who draws you into the story and asks you questions- it was soooo very interactive and think that was the biggest brilliance of the book for me.
As someone who grew up in the Caribbean, storytelling is a big part of our culture and meeting family who tells story as a way to impart wisdom made me feel so much at home. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it is set in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, my two homes. I wish I could tell you more about this book, because I so want you to read it, but this is something you must experience for yourself. I LOVE this one, read it!
A novel that holds your face and shows you the reality that some people live and does not let go of you till you are weeping….
We waited six years for the author to write her second book and trust me when I say, this did not disappoint. As with her first book, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ tackles a subject matter that is current, real and with characters you cant help but to fight for.
An exceptional collection of short stories that will leave you breathless.
Friends, I am still unable to put into words how profoundly moving this entire collection is. Chimeka Garricks is a master storyteller who deserves to be read widely. I need to see more people talking about this book that left me speechless.
In Angie Cruz How Not To Drown in a Glass of Water we meet Cara Romero who is originally from the Dominican Republic, she’s been living in NYC for decades after leaving DR and her abusive husband. She’s hit a bit of rough patch with the great recession so she’s now job hunting. In order to find a job she must go through an agency, Cara turns the agency interview into a therapy session that we get to listen (read) in.
Angie Cruz was showing off when she made the character Cara, this book is phenomenal, talk about a character you want to see win!
This is the gold standard of memoirs. Brilliant, moving, an emotional journey, layered, spectacular, heavy, redeeming, unforgettable and un-putdownable.
I read this book a month ago and I am still unable to put into words how brilliant this memoir is. My life is forever changed reading this book. Safiya Sincliar’s writing is forever in my heart and I need everyone to experience this masterpiece and for it to win all the awards.
How To Say Babylon: A Jamaican Memoir by Safiya Sinclair’s explores childhood and adulthood growing up in a very strict Rastafarian household in Jamaica where she and especially her sisters were subjected to numerous rules to maintain and keep their purity. She showcases how this upbringing impacted every part of her life and how she was able to break free.