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75 Books You Should Read During 2023

Part of a reading campaign for 2023

A World of Prose


Hazel Simmonds-McDonald - While pursuing the PhD was a Research Assistant in the Child Phonology Project at Stanford University. Also served as an adjunct member of staff at Santa Clara University and taught Freshman Composition and Linguistics for a year before proceeding to the University of the West Indies. Served there as a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professor in the Departments of Linguistics and the merged Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature. Also served as Deputy Dean of Outreach, Deputy Dean - Planning, and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the Cave Hill Campus. Was the Co-Chair of The UWI Cultural Studies Initiative that established the discipline at Cave Hill. Last post before retirement was Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Open Campus. In retirement has served in selected projects as: Consultant for the OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (language policy); CARICOM Open and Distant Learning Committee; Erdiston College Literacy Diagnosis and Intervention Strategies.

Anansi - Alistair Campbell


Writer's Bio

The poet was born in Rorotonga, Cook Islands, in 1925. His mother Teu (nee Bosini) was a descendant of the Tongarevan ariki or high chief Paroa. His father Jock Campbell was successful trader from Otago, New Zealand, who emigrated to the islands in 1919 after his service in the Gallipoli campaign. Teu died when Campbell was six years old. His older siblings Margaret and Stuart were sent to stay with relatives in New Zealand. Within a year, his father died, and he and his younger brother Bill were sent to their parental grandmother in Dunedin and then, when she could no longer cope, to a Dunedin orphanage, all in the midst of the Great Depression. These heart-breaking childhood events figure prominently in Campbell's poetry and in his memoir Island to Island. His dual Polynesian and Pakeha (European) heritage makes him a fore parent of bicultural and multicultural writing in Aotearoa. At times there is an apparent concern with cultural identity in his work, at other times the concern appears to be focused on 'pure' aesthetics: le mot juste, the romantic lyric, elegies of loss,, structural grace. Campbell's poetry is multi-faceted: he wrote over nearly six decades the 'Polynesian strain', and as the New Zealand Romantic poet, the lyric poet, and the historical poet.

Breath, Eyes, Memory - Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club Selection, Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist, The Farming of Bones, The Dew Breaker, Brother, I'm dying, Create Dangerously, Claire of the Sea Light, The Art of Death, and Everything Inside, a Reese's Book Club selection, and National Book Critics Circle Awards winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, Best American Essays 2011, Haiti Noir, and Haiti Noir 2. She has written seven books for children and young adults, Anacaona, Behind the Mountains, as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance. Her memoir, Brother I'm Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award, and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur fellow, a 2018 Ford foundation "Art of Change" fellow, a United States Artists Fellow, a two-time winner of The Story Prize, the winner of the 2018 Neustadt International Prize, the 2019 St. Louis Literary Award, and the 2020 Vilcek Prize for Literature.

Over Our Way - Jean D'Costa and Velma Pollard



Writers Bios

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 1995. 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.


Velma Pollard was born in 1937. She grew up in Woodside, a rural Jamaican village, where her mother was a school teacher and her father was a farmer: their interest in the arts was to be one of the main formative influences for both her and her sister (Erna Brodber). Nostalgia for the countryside has also proved to be a major feature of Pollard's work as we can see in 'Crown Point', for instance, where she says "Perhaps the clutter of my life/obscures her voice/Perhaps the clutter of my mind/frustrates her". This is typical of the way her poetry reflects on modernity in general, particularly when the haste and bustle of the present in contrast to the gentler and slower lifestyle of previous generations. Dr. Pollard is currently a retired senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. She has published five collections of poetry and her work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel and three collections of short fiction.

For the Life of Laetitia - Merle Hodge


Writer's Bio

Merle Hodge is a Trinidadian writer and cultural social activist. Her 1970 novel Crick Crack, Monkey is a classic of West Indian literature and Hodge is acknowledged as the first black Caribbean woman to have published a major work of fiction. Merle Hodge was born in 1944, in Calcutta Settlement, Carapichaima, Trinidad and Tobago. She ahs taught at secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago; in the teacher education programme of the Grenada Revolution; at The University of the West Indies (Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago campuses); The University of the Virgin Islands, and the colleges Wellesley and Dartmouth in the US. Among her areas of interest are language, creative writing and family - in the Caribbean. She is a cultural and social activist (co-founder of Women Working for Social Progress, aka "Workingwomen"); and a writer. She has published two novels: Crick Crack, Monkey and For the Life of Laetitia; short stories; papers in international journals; and a textbook, The Knots in English: A Manual for Caribbean Users


Miguel Street - V.S. Naipaul


Writers' Bio

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was a Nobel Prize-winning British writer best known for his bleak novels set in developing countries. His writing style was characterized by the use of simple yet strong words woven together in grasping narratives that reflect the dark realities of the world we live in. Born into a family of indentured laborers shipped from India to Trinidad, he struggled a lot in his childhood and was exposed to the stark realities of life from an early age. However, he was determined to rise above the hardships of his early life and worked hard at school in order to build a better future for himself. His hard work paid off and he received a scholarship to study at the prestigious Oxford University. By this time he had realized that his true interest was writing and began writing earnestly. However, his early attempts at writing proved to be unsuccessful. Lonely and insecure, he was on the verge of depression when a chance meeting with a young woman, Patricia Ann Hale, changed the course of his life. Hale, whom he eventually married, encouraged hum to write and also served as his first editor. Eventually his writing career took off and he gained much recognition for his narratives which painted an unapologetically candid picture of the life in the Third World countries.

A Cow Called Boy & My Father Sun-Sun Johnson - C. Everard Palmer


Writer's Bio

Mr. Palmer was born in Kendal, Hanover in 1940 and was educated at Kendal Elementary School. He studied at Mico Teachers' College in Kingston and later still at Lakeside University in Canada. He worked as a journalist with the Gleaner Company before embarking on a career as an author. He was a prolific author of children's books set in the Jamaican countryside and has received high praise for the excellence of his craftmanship and sympathetic humor. Mr. Palmer has published The Cloud With The Silver LiningBig Doc BitterrootThe Sun Salutes YouThe Hummingbird PeopleThe Wooing of Beppo TateA Cow Called BoyBabba and Mr. BigMy Father Sun Sun Johnson. An adult book, A Broken Vessel was published in 1960 by the Jamaica Pioneer Press. He authored more than 15 books for young readers, the last one being A Time To Say Goodbye published in 2006. Everald Palmer has been recognized for his great work in Jamaican Literature. Mr. Palmer moved to Canada in 1974 where he continued teach and write. He died there on June 16, 2013.

The Young Warriors - V.S. Reid


Writer's Bio

Victor Stafford Reid was born on May 1, 1913, in Kingston, Jamaica, to Alexander and Margaret Reid. Victor, his two brothers and one sister grew up in Kingston where they attended school. He was educated at Central Branch Primary and the Kingston Technical High School. During his early life, Reid was employed in various positions. He also traveled to several countries. He worked as a farm overseer, a newspaper reporter, advertising executive, and journalist and at different times edited the weekly newspaper Public Opinion and the news magazine Spotlight. Most of his fiction is set in rural Jamaica with which Reid identified and to which he returned frequently, for reinvigoration and inspiration. He made Jamaica, its history and its people the focus of his works: several, of which have become standard text books for studies in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Aunt Jen - Paulette Ramsay


Writer's Bio

Dr. Paulette A. Ramsay is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Education, at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. She is an interdisciplinary academic, an established writer and researcher whose interests include Language Pedagogy, Writing Theories and Afro-Hispanic literature and culture, international journals such as The Afro-Hispanic Review, PALARA, Bulletin of Latin American Review, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, The Langston Hughes Review, Hispania, Caribbean Quarterly and College Language Association. Her research draws on broad post-colonial/post-modernist theories, gender studies, feminist studies and cultural studies, especially as they relate to issues of identity, ethnicity and nationhood. She is regarded as one of the leading researchers in the areas of Afro-Costa Rican and Afro-Mexican literary and cultural production. She has published a rhetorical reader for Caribbean tertiary students Blooming with the Pouis (2009), as well as translations of a novel, Aunt Jen, has been translated to German and Italian and is enjoying great popularity. She has published three anthologies of poems entitled, Under Basil Leaves (2010), October Afternoon (2012) and Star Apple Blue and Avocado Green (2016) respectively. She has been the recipient of several awards including OAS, AECI Fellowships, UWI 60 Under 60 Award for outstanding research, and the UWI Principal's Award in 2014, she received the French National Award: Chevalier, Knigh in the French Order of Merit, Ordre du Merite from the French Government for her work as former Head of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and her collaboration with the French Embassy.

Old Story Time & Smile Orange - Trevor Rhone

Jamaican playwright, born in Kingston, Jamaica; he studied drama at the Rose Bruford College in Kent. In 1965 he founded "Theatre 77", which performed at the Barn Theatre in Kingston for which Rhone wrote The Gadget (1969). His published plays include Old Story Time and Other Plays (1981), which also contains Smile Orange and School's Out (1986). Set in a 'third-rate' beach hotel, Smile Orange (1971, filmed and directed by Rhone in 1974) is a deceptively gentle satire on the insidious corruptions of the tourist industry, while School's Out (1975) draws on Rhone's experiences as a schoolmaster, and questions many current assumptions about education. Rhone's most popular play, Old Story Time (1979), in which 'Pa Ben', the old story-teller, recounts forty years of Jamaican life, reveals the playwright's comic vision at its most luminous. Rhone's realistic comedies about Jamaican life all combine serious social criticism with buoyant humour, and are acutely sensitive to a wide variety of dialects and modes of speech. If: A Tragedy of the Ruled (1983) and Hopes of the Living Dead (1988) are both historical allegories set in turn-of-the-century Nigeria. He also co-authored and produced the internationally success film The Harder They Come (1972).

Plays for Today - Derek Walcott, Dennis Scott, Errol Hill


Derek Walcott - Born on the island of Saint Lucia, a former British colony in the West Indies, poet and playwright Derek Walcott was trained as a painter but turned to writing as a young man. He published his first poem in the local newspaper at the age of 14. Five years later, he borrowed $200.00 to print his first collection 25 Poems, which he distributed on street corners. Walcott's major breakthrough came with the collection In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960 (1962), a book which celebrates the Caribbean and its history as well as investigates the scars of colonialism. Throughout a long and distinguished career, Walcott returned to those same themes of language, power, and place. His later collections include Tiepolo's Hound (2000), The Prodigal (2004), Selected Poems (2007), White Egrets (2010), and Morning, Paramin (2016). In 1992, Walcott won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel committee described his work as "a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment."

Dennis Scott - He had a distinguished career as a poet, playwright, actor (he was Lester Tibideaux in the Cosby Show), dancer in the Jamaican National Dance Theatre, an editor of Caribbean Quarterly and teacher. His first collection, Uncle Time (1973) was on of the first to establish the absolutely serious use of nation language in lyric poetry. His other poetry collections include Dreadwalk (1982) and Strategies (1989). His plays include Terminus, Dog, Echo in the Bone, and Scott's work is acknowledged as one of the major influences on the direction of Caribbean theatre. He died at the early age of fifty-one in 1991.

Errol Gaston Hill - was a Trinidadian-born playwright, actor and theatre historian, "one of the leading pioneers in the West Indies theatre". Beginning as early as the 1940s, he was the leading voice for the development of a national theatre in the West Indies. He was the first tenured faculty member of African descent at Dartmouth College in the United States, joining the drama department there in 1968. Hill was an actor and announcer with the British Broadcasting Corporation in London, and subsequently went to teach at the University of the West Indies, in Kingston, Jamaica, and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, as creative arts tutor (1953-58 and 1962-1965). Between 1958 and 1966 he was also working as a playwright. he was a teaching fellow at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1965-67), and then an associate professor of drama at Richmond college of the City University of New York, 1967-1968. He was a professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, from 1968 to 1989. After 1972 he devoted himself to scholarship and writing. His early work focused on creating a body of plays uniquely suited for audiences and actors in the West  Indies. His later published work brought to light the many accomplishments and trials of black stage actors.

The Harder They Come - Michael Thelwell



A pioneer in Afro-American Studies, in 1970 Ekwueme Michael Thelwell became the founding chairman of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department. The Jamaican-born writer, activist, educator, and intellectual received his early education at Jamaica College. He came to the United States in 1959 to attend Howard University and went on to do his graduate work at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Thelwell was active in the civil rights movement; participating in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Thelwell’s anti-apartheid activism in the 1980s resulted in successful legislation that outlawed tax write-offs for U.S.-based corporations paying taxes to the apartheid regime in South Africa.

As a writer of fiction, as well as of influential essays, his work has been published nationally and internationally in journals and magazines including The Black Scholar, Temps Moderne, the Partisan Review, Presence Africaine (Paris), the New York Times, and African Commentary. His novel The Harder They Come (1980) has become a classic on life among Jamaican common folk. His political and literary essays are collected in Duties, Pleasures and Conflicts (1987). Thelwell’s literary awards include fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Centennial Medal of the Institute of Jamaica.

A House for Mr. Biswas - V.S. Naipaul