This picks up where the first Antigua an Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed page leaves off. As with that page, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. But as I was recently asked in an interview if there are any writers of note from Antigua beyond Jamaica Kincaid, I feel it important to reinforce that while Kincaid’s well earned stature is indisputable, Antigua and Barbuda does have an emerging literary culture. Dig through the section on Antigua and Barbuda Writings for more on that, and scroll through this and the other reviews sections to read what has been written about our writers. Do we have a literary culture. Hell, yes. With very little to encourage and sustain it, it lives.
Gulliver and Janie Conley-Johnson’s Table Manners book won the Design award in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards so it’s no surprise that critics are raving about it. Here’s what two culinary bloggers had to say:
“As a budding food writer I know how difficult it is to make our food look ‘pretty’ and with the job Janie and Gulliver did with TableManners, you’ll have to be prepared for the food literally jumping out at you as you browse the pages.” Read more.
“Tablemanners: A Culinary Review of Hospitality in Antigua & Barbuda, by the husband and wife team of Gulliver Johnson & Janie Conley-Johnson, is a stunning book.” Read more.
Jamaican children and young adult book writer Diane Browne singled out S E James Tragedy on Emerald Island for mention on her blog. Here’s what she said: “The descriptions of the eruptions beginning, the ash, the fright of not knowing at first what it is, what was actually happening, and then once reality dawned, the fear of what would happen next, grabbed me. I was sitting ‘scrunched up’ in my bed (which is where I read) with fright. The description of the hurricanes was also full of tension, raising unwanted memories of recent hurricanes. I like the sharing of the reality of other islands, as different from the sharing of folktales, which is how we usually get to know each other at this age level.”
In this new (2013) review of The Boy from Willow Bend – my first book, initially released in 2002 (wow) and re-issued in 2009 – U.S. blogger Alexandra Caselle writes, “The musicality of the authentic, Antiguan language resonates like wind dipping in and out of multicolored bottle trees…Imagine being a youth with no one for support, only a drunk grandfather who takes out his frustration on you. Imagine handling all of this turmoil while trying to survive poverty. But Vere survives and develops an inner strength that frees him from his situation. Vere’s story may take place in Antigua, but the problems he experiences are universal. The book is a great resource to discuss those experiences in the classroom and learn about different cultures and language. Language inquiry offers adolescents to study language through a network of social constructs such as gender, power structures, race/culture, and class. It also provides them with an opportunity to study the structure of language linguistically. Students can examine the lexicon/vocabulary, morphology, phonetics, syntax, rhetorical features, and pragmatic nature of the Antiguan language.” Read the rest of the review and the reviewer’s lovely poetry inspired by the book, here.
“Elizabeth Abbott became personally invested in the story of sugar after having learned that her ancestors were some of the mistreated Antiguan and Grenadian sugar cane workers…Writing with intelligence and passion, Abbott delivers a compelling account of the lives of the sugar workers.” – review of Elizabeth Abbott’s Sugar: A Bittersweet History in Live Local
“This is a highly readable and comprehensive study of a remarkable product…it is Abbott’s handling of the “slave-sugar complex” that lifts this book into a must-read. With rare eloquence and passion she demonstrates how sugar enriched Europe while denuding the African continent of its population and retarding its economic development. Her treatment of the scarifying effects of slavery on intimate relationships is particularly enlightening.” – a review of Elizabeth Abbott’s Sugar in The Independent
Jenny Stow is not Antiguan but her Jack and Jill book is set in Antigua. We thought you’d like to know. According to Kirkus reviews, it’s “A handsome new setting for an old favorite.” Publisher’s Weekly had a similar view, saying, “A Caribbean setting adds zest to a well-known verse in this effervescent picture book. All the familiar characters–the rat, cat and dog and the cow with the crumpled horn–are here, refreshingly depicted against cerulean blue skies, golden sands and an abundance of lush vegetation. … A splendid new outlook on a classic.”
At Voices from the Gap, Katherine Kipp writes of Althea Prince’s collection of essays, Being Black: “Althea Prince’s essays show her strong dedication to Black Canadians like herself as she helps people understand the prejudice many Black Canadians face due to their racial identity. Prince’s innovative essays provide first-hand knowledge of racism, and she shows the effects of racism to people of other cultures who may not share the same experiences. The connection Prince creates with her readers ultimately forces people to critique their own experiences of life. A start to ending racism is knowing what it’s like to live in another person’s shoes and Prince offers some interesting sizes to try on.” Julianne Okot Bitek, writing at Straight.com, said, meanwhile, of The Politics of Black Women’s Hair, “will remain an important contribution to the conversation about the social and political pressure that black women continue to face in public.” And at People with Voices,Deborah Gabriel termed it “refreshing” and “moving”. While Linisa George wrote at 365antigua.com: “The Politics of Black Women’s Hair is beautiful. It speaks to the reality and the great injustice that we continue to put our young black girls through.”
Commenting on her book, Loving This Man at Canadian Literature, Michelle La Flamme wrote: “Prince’s lyrical command of language engages readers in an interiority of the experiences of Black women as colonial subjects and immigrants by focusing on intergenerational links and the mother-daughter dyad.” But read why Hugh Hodges said at Quill and Quire, “The first half of the novel is far more successful than the second.”
My first book, The Boy from Willow Bend initally hit the music in 2002/3 as a Macmillan imprint. It was re-issued by Hansib in 2009. Althea Romeo-Mark said about it in 2012: “Joanne Hillhouse has written a novel that not only teaches a lesson for life, but it also unveils psychosocial problems faced by children who daily cope with abandonment, unstable homes and abuse in the Caribbean and other areas in the world. Parents immigrate in search of a better life, thus leaving children behind to face an uncertain future. Isn’t it ironic?”
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
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