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Celebrating Jamaican Independence: Sixty (60) years of Jamaican Fiction

Celebrating Sixty Years of Jamaican Fiction

Writers

Nicole Dennis-Benn

Nicole Dennis-Benn

Garfield Ellis

Garfield Ellis

Curdella Forbes

Curdella Forbes

Beverley East

Beverley East

Esther Figueroa

Esther Figueroa

Ifeona Fulani

Ifeona Fulani

Marcia Douglas

Marcia Douglas

Shantal English

Shantal English

Jean D'Costa

 

Jean D'Costa is a Jamaican writer, best known for her important and influential works of children's literature.

Jean D'Costa was born Jean Creary on January 13, 1937 in St. Andrew, Jamaica to parents who were elementary school teachers. The family lived in various parts of rural Jamaica and Jean, along with her two older siblings, attended the schools where their parents taught. In 1948 she began attending St. Hilda's High School in St. Ann on a government scholarship and moved on to St. Hugh's High School in Kingston, in 1955. After completing high school. she entered the University College of the West Indies (UCWI), now the University of the West Indies (UWI). She completed a degree in English, with honours in 1958. Following this, she went to England in 1959 on a scholarship to pursue a Master's degree in Jacobean Drama at the Oxford University.

Soon after completing her studies at Oxford, D'Costa began teaching Old English and Linguistics at the UCWI in 1962, and eventually became a freelance writer. Between 1977 and 1980 she researched archaic Jamaican creole and culture. In 1980 D'Costa joined the staff at the Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, teaching Caribbean Literature, Creative Writing, Linguistics and Old English.

D'Costa published her first book, Sprat Morrison in 1972. Escape to Last Man's Peak followed in 1976, and Voice in the Wind in 1978. These three works have long been considered required reading for first-year Caribbean high schoolers.

She also wrote and published books for the younger seven to ten age group. These are Duppy Tales (1997), Caesar and the Three Robbers (1996), and Jenny and the General (2006).

A collaborative effort with Velma Pollard produced Over Our Way, a collection of short stories for pre-teens, in 1981. And with Professor Barbara Lalla, she published Voices in Exile: Jamaican Texts of the 18th and 19th Centuries in 1989 and Language in Exile: Three Hundred Years of Jamaican Creole in 1990 - both works provided a historical analysis of Jamaican language and culture.

For her outstanding contributions to children's literature and linguistics, D'Costa has won several accolades. She was awarded the Jamaica Reading Association's Children's Writers Award in 1976. She also attained The Hamilton College Gertrude Flesh Bristol award in 1984 and the Institute of Jamaica's Silver Musgrave Medal in 1994.

https://jis.gov.jm/information/get-the-facts/jean-dcosta/

 

Nicole Dennis-Benn

 

Nicole Dennis-Benn is the author of Here Comes the Sun (Norton/Liveright, July 2016), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a 2017 Lambda Literary Award winner. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Soraya McDonald describes Nicole Dennis-Benn's debut as reminiscent of the work of Toni Morrison. Her bestselling sophomore novel, Patsy, (Norton/Liveright, June 2019), is a 2020 Lambda Literary Award Winner, a New York Times Editors' Choice, a Financial Times Critics Choice, a Stonewall Book Awards Honor Book, and a Today Show Read with Jenna Book Club selection. Patsy has been named Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Time, NPR, People Magazine, Washington Post, Apple Books, Oprah Magazine, The Guardian, Good Housekeeping, BuzzFeed, ELLE, among others. "Patsy fills a literary void with compassion, complexity and tenderness," raves Time Magazine; and NPR names Dennis-Benn "an indispensable novelist".

In addition to being a two time Lambda Literary Award Winner for her novels Patsy and Here Comes the Sun, Dennis-Benn is a recipient of the National Foundation for the Arts Grant. She was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize; and has recently been long-listed for The Pen/Faulkner Award in Fiction and short-listed for the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Elle, BuzzFeed, Electric Literature, Lenny Letter, The Rumpus, Catapult, Red Rock Review, and Kweli Literary Journal, Mosaic, Ebony, and the Feminist Wire. Her popular New York Times Modern Love essay, "Who is Allowed to Hold Hands" was narrated by 15-times Grammy Winning artist, Alicia Keys on Apple's Modern Love podcast. Nicole Dennis-Benn has previously taught in the writing programs at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and City College; and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee Writers' Conference.

Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a graduate of St. Andrew High School for Girls and Cornell University; and holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Dennis-Benn is the founder of Stuyvesant Writing Workshop and lives with her wife and two sons in Brooklyn, New York.

https://www.nicoledennisbenn.com/bio

 

Beverley East

 

Beverley East is a graphologist, a court-qualified forensic document examiner and author.

EDUCATION

Though born in Kingston, Jamaica, East attended Westminster Kingsway College in London, graduating with A-levels in English Language, Literature and German and O-levels in British Economic and Social History, German, Italian, English Literature and Language, Sociology

East attended the College of Distributive Trades in London and earned a degree in The Communications Advertising and Marketing Dip (Marketing, Puerto Rico and Advertising).

She began studying graphology at the International Graphoanalysis Society and was certified in 1989. She earned her Master"s in Graphoanalysis from the International Graphoanalysis Society. In 1993 she became a Certified Questioned Document Examiner (QDE) for the National Bureau of Questioned Document Examiners in New York, New New York

CAREER

She works in her home city of Washington, District of Columbia, and in Jamaica. She authenticated handwriting on the labels of 1,700-item butterfly collection assembled by naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace for the then-owner of the collection, attorney Robert Haggestad, who purchased the collection for $600. Haggestad asked East to authenticate the handwriting, which she did.

The collection was later purchased by the Smithsonian for a substantial sum ($45 million).

East was the handwriting expert in the 2012 court case of the Jamaican Stone Crusher Gang, where police fabricated witness statements against members. Accused gang members were later released because of the evidence being false.

East has also been asked by the media to comment on the handwriting of news worthy events. In 1998, "The Reliable Source", a respected Washington Post column, asked her to review Monica Lewinsky’s handwriting.

East was also asked to comment on handwriting samples from the anthrax mailings case for a National Geographic Channel documentary.

In addition to being a graphologist, East is an author In June 2014, she was named by Ebony magazine as one of "six Caribbean writers you should take some time to discover" (alongside Mervyn Morris, Andrea Stuart, Ann-Margaret Lim, Roland Watson-Grant, and Tiphanie Yanique, who were attending the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica). her first book, Write: A New Slant on Selecting the Perfect Mate (2000), became a bestseller after it received major media coverage, including East being interviewed by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • East was awarded the Flori Roberts – Ladies First Trailblazer award in 2002, for being the first woman of color to be qualified to and practice graphology and QDE.

 

Garfield Ellis

Garfield Ellis grew up in Jamaica, the eldest of nine children. He studied marine engineering, management and public relations in Jamaica and completed his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Miami, on full scholarship as a James Michener Fellow. He was a two-time winner of the Una Marson prize for adult literature; in the first instance for his first collection of short stories, Flaming Hearts (pub. 1997), and later for the still unpublished novel, Till I'm Laid To Rest. He has twice won the Canute A. Brodhurst prize for fiction (The Caribbean Writer, University of Virgin Islands) 2000 & 2005 and the 1990 Heinemann/Lifestyle short story competition.

Garfield is the author of five published books: Flaming Hearts, Wake Rasta, Such As I Have, For Nothing At All and Till I'm Laid To Rest, Spring 2010. His work has appeared in several international journals, including Callaloo, Calabash, the Caribbean Writer, Obsidian III, Anthurium and Small Axe. 

http://garfieldellisbooks.com/pages/Author.html

Marcia Douglas

Esther Figueroa

 

Esther Figueroa: Esther Figueroa, PhD, is a Jamaican independent filmmaker, writer, and linguist. She has twenty-five years of experience in media production including documentaries, educational videos, television programming, music videos, multimedia, web content, and feature film. An activist filmmaker, she focuses on local knowledge, indigenous cultures, social injustice, community empowerment, and the environment. Her work gives voice to those outside of mainstream media, and aims to counter the dominant values, information, and worldviews portrayed in commercial media. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

https://books.google.com/books/about/Limbo.html?id=fXq5wAEACAAJ&source=kp_author_description

 

Curdella Forbes

 

Dr. Forbes taught at the University of the West Indies, Mona. before coming to Howard in 2004. Her research interests include post-colonial theory; Caribbean poetics; Shakespeare and post-colonialism; Caribbean literature and culture with particular focus on issues of gender, performance, and orality; and the (post-colonial) issues of diaspora and globalization. She earned her PhD in 2000 from the University of the West Indies. Her doctoral dissertation is titled "Through the Lens of Gender: A Revisionary Reading of the Novels of Samuel Selvon and George Lamming. "Dr. Forbes is the of From Nation to Diaspora: Samuel Selvon, George Lamming and the Cultural Performance of Gender (2005) three works of fiction: A Permanent Freedom (2008), Flying with Icarus and Other Stories (2003) and Songs of Silence (2002). Her numerous scholarly articles appear in Literature and Psychology: A Journal of Psychoanalytic and Cultural Criticism, Journal of West Indian Literature, Small Axe, Aspekt (a Slovak feminist periodical), Anthurium Postcolonial Text and Caribbean Quarterly. Her short stories have appeared in journals and edited collections. She has presented scholarly papers at conferences in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Austria, Canada and here in the USA. She was an editor for the online peer reviewed journal Postcolonial Text, is book review editor for The Journal of West Indian Literature, and a member of the advisory board for Anthurium, an online peer-reviewed journal of original Caribbean works and critical studies of Caribbean literature, film, art and culture. She serves as peer reviewer for a number of refereed journals, including Social and Economic Studies and Caribbean Quarterly. Dr. Forbes has been involved in planning various symposia and conferences, including the conference on George Lamming (The Sovereignty of the Imagination), which took place at Mona, Jamaica, 5-7 June 2003 and the Walter Rodney 25th Anniversary Conference which took place at Howard University in September 2005.

https://profiles.howard.edu/curdella-forbes

 

Ifeona Fulani

 

 

Ifeona Fulani is a Jamaican-born, black British writer and scholar who received her B.A. in English Studies at the University of Nottingham, England. Fulani received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at New York University, where she is Faculty in the Liberal Studies Program.

Ifeona Fulani’s writing has been called “elegant, witty, sad and brave.” She has published numerous short stories and scholarly essays, and is the editor of Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanities, Women and Music (University of West Indies Press, 2012). Her novel, Seasons of Dust, was published by Harlem River Press in 1997, and her collection of short stories, Ten Days in Jamaica, was released by Peepal Tree Press first in the United Kingdom in 2012.

https://mosaicmagazine.org/ifeona-fulani-interview/