Caribbean literature

Caribbean literature

----Caribbean literature is the term generally accepted for the literature of the various territories of the Caribbean region. Literature in English specifically from the former British West Indies may be referred to as Anglo-Caribbean or, in historical contexts, West Indian literature, although in modern contexts the latter term is rare.Fact|date=May 2008

Most of these territories have become independent nations since the 1960s, though some retain colonial ties to the United Kingdom. They all share, apart from the English language, a number of political, cultural, and social ties which make it useful to consider their literary output in a single category. The more wide-ranging term "Caribbean literature" generally refers to the literature of all Caribbean territories regardless of language--whether written in English, Spanish, French, or Dutch, or one of numerous creoles.

Territories included in the category "West Indian"

The literature of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos would normally be considered to belong to the wider category of West Indian literature. Some literary scholars might also include Bermuda, though geographically Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean and cultural ties with the region are not very strong.Fact|date=May 2008

Development of the idea of West Indian literature

The term "West Indies" first began to achieve wide currency in the 1950s, when writers like Samuel Selvon, John Hearne, Edgar Mittelholzer, V.S. Naipaul, and George Lamming began to be published in the United Kingdom. A sense of a single literature developing across the islands was also encouraged in the 1940s by the BBC radio programme "Caribbean Voices", which featured stories and poems written by West Indian authors, recorded in London under the direction of producer Henry Swanzy, and broadcast back to the islands. Magazines like "Kyk-Over-Al" in Guyana, "Bim" in Barbados, and "Focus" in Jamaica, which published work by writers from across the region, also encouraged links and helped build an audience.

Many--perhaps most--West Indian writers have found it necessary to leave their home territories and base themselves in the United Kingdom, the United States, or Canada in order to make a living from their work--in some cases spending the greater parts of their careers away from the territories of their birth. Critics in their adopted territories might argue that, for instance, V.S. Naipaul ought to be considered a British writer instead of a Trinidadian writer, or Jamaica Kincaid and Paule Marshall American writers, but most West Indian readers and critics still consider these writers "West Indian".

West Indian literature ranges over subjects and themes as wide as those of any other "national" literature, but in general many West Indian writers share a special concern with questions of identity, ethnicity, and language that rise out of the Caribbean historical experience.

Two West Indian writers have won the Nobel Prize for Literature: Derek Walcott (1992), born in St. Lucia, resident mostly in Trinidad during the 1960s and 70s, and partly in the United States since then; and V.S. Naipaul, born in Trinidad and resident in the United Kingdom since the 1950. (Saint-John Perse, who won the Nobel Prize in 1960, was born in the French territory of Guadeloupe.)

Other notable names in (anglophone) Caribbean literature have included Earl Lovelace, Austin Clarke, Claude McKay, Orlando Patterson, Andrew Salkey, Edward Kamau Brathwaite (who was born in Ghana of a Ghanaian mother but raised mostly in Jamaica), Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Michelle Cliff, to name only a few. In more recent times, a number of new literary voices have emerged from the Caribbean as well as the Caribbean diaspora, including Kititian Caryl Phillips (who has lived in the UK since one month of age), Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian immigrant to the United States; Andrea Levy of the United Kingdom, Jamaicans Colin Channer and Marlon James, and Antiguan Marie-Elena John.

ome significant West Indian writers

(Grouped by territory of birth or upbringing)


*Marie-Elena John
*Jamaica Kincaid


*Kamau Brathwaite
*Timothy Callender
*Austin Clarke
*Frank Collymore
*Geoffrey Drayton
*A. N. Forde
*Anthony Kellman
*George Lamming


*Phyllis Shand Allfrey
*Jean Rhys
*Gabriel Christian

Dominican Republic and Haiti

*Edwidge Danticat
* Julio Vega Battle


*Antonio Benitez-Rojo
*Carlos Moore (Cuban writer)
*Nancy Morejon


*John Agard
*E. R. Braithwaite
*Jan Carew
*Martin Carter
*Cyril Dabydeen
*David Dabydeen
*Fred D'Aguiar
*O. R. Dathorne
*Beryl Gilroy
*Wilson Harris
*Roy A. K. Heath
*Oonya Kempadoo
*Peter Kempadoo
*Mark McWatt
*Pauline Melville
*Edgar Mittelholzer
*Grace Nichols
*Sasenarine Persaud
*A. J. Seymour
*Jan Shinebourne
*Eric Walrond
*Denis Williams


*Lindsay Barrett
*Edward Baugh
*Vera Bell
*Alvin Bennett
*Louise Bennett-Coverly
*Lebert Bethune
*Erna Brodber
*George Campbell
*H. D. Carberry
*Colin Channer
*Michelle Cliff
*Kwame Dawes
*Jean D'Costa
*Herbert de Lisser
*Andrew Edwards XIV
*Gloria Escoffery
*John Figueroa
*Honor Ford-Smith
*Lorna Goodison
*John Hearne
*A. L. Hendriks
*Constance Hollar
*Nalo Hopkinson
*Marlon James
*Archie Lindo
*Roger Mais
*Una Marson
*Basil McFarlane
*John E. C. McFarlane
*Claude McKay
*Anthony McNeill
*Pamela Mordecai
*Mervyn Morris
*Rex Nettleford
*Orlando Patterson
*Geoffrey Philp
*Velma Pollard
*Patricia Powell
*Claudia Rankine
*V. S. Reid
*Namba Roy
*Andrew Salkey
*Dennis Scott
*Olive Senior
*M. G. Smith
*Vivian Virtue
*Anthony C. Winkler
*Sylvia Wynter


*Patrick Chamoiseau
*Aime Cesaire


*E. A. Markham

t Kitts and Nevis

*Caryl Phillips

t Lucia

*Kendel Hippolyte
*Jane King
*Garth St Omer
*Derek Walcott

Trinidad and Tobago

*James Christopher Aboud
*Michael Anthony
*Robert Antoni
*Kevin Baldeosingh
*Dionne Brand
*Lennox Brown
*Wayne Brown
*Vahni Capildeo
*Wilfred Cartey
*Faustin Charles
*Ramabai Espinet
*Albert Gomes
*Cecil Gray
*Frank Hercules
*Errol Hill
*Merle Hodge
*C. L. R. James
*Anthony Joseph
*Ismith Khan
*Roi Kwabena
*Harold "Sonny" Ladoo
*John La Rose
*Earl Lovelace
*Rabindranath Maharaj
*Ian McDonald
*Alfred Mendes
*Shani Mootoo
*Shiva Naipaul
*V. S. Naipaul
*Lakshmi Persaud
*Jennifer Rahim
*Ronald Ramdin
*Eric Roach
*Lawrence Scott
*Samuel Selvon
*John Stewart

West Indian literary periodicals

*"The Beacon" (Trinidad)
*"Bim" (Barbados)
*"DIALOGUE" (Trinidad)
*"The Caribbean Writer" (U. S. Virgin Islands)
*"Focus" (Jamaica)
*"Kyk-Over-Al" (Guyana)
*"The Caribbean Review of Books" (Trinidad)
*"Savacou" (journal of the Caribbean Artists' Movement, London)

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