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Antigua & Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed XI

This picks up where the previous installments of Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed pages left off (use the search feature to the right to dig them up). As with those earlier pages, 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/professional 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. It’s all shared in an effort to underscore, emphasize, and insist on Antigua and Barbuda’s presence in the Caribbean literary canon.

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight also explores themes of racial and ethnic intolerance, however, the spirit of this narrative is more in the nature of a true love story. Hillhouse cleverly crafts the tale through the eyes of Selena and Michael, alternating each chapter between these two characters…This style provides the reader with both a male and female perspective highlighting how the genders can perceive the same situation so differently…Michael is presented as a determined but sensitive man struggling with the vulnerabilities life has dealt him. This is a rare opportunity for the reader to be exposed to raw Caribbean emotions and feelings…Dancing Nude in the Moonlight is lyrical, sensual and gentle…(it) provide(s) a valuable glimpse of the Caribbean female.” – The Caribbean Writer, 2005

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“(Jamaica) Kincaid is a lucid writer who uses precise, economical prose to present a sharp and moving perspective on adolescence and British colonialism. I’m so glad this project brought Lucy into my life and I’m looking forward to reading more of Kincaid’s writing.” – Bookmarked

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‘Here are poems that reward several concentrated readings to mine their full, harrowing flavour: in this world, men fly through the air on the demolished doors of their houses, like a nightmarish scene from a game no one wants to play in reality. Children ask questions of adults who ask the same things of the dispassionate heavens. Answers are slow, and hard to read when so much is crumbling or has been swept into the sea. Instructions for survival often read more like stolen bits of catechism, monuments to prayer: “Find your bearings in the darkness / by the light in the channel. / The light in the channel is a warship . . . Use anything you can to collect the rain. / Cup your hands to your ears if you must. / They must clear the mounds of coral from the road first. / The coral are not bones. / They are bright flowers.”’ – Epiphaneia by Richard Georges (Richard is a BVI author with Trinidad roots who also has roots in Antigua and Barbuda). This review is by Shivanee Ramlochan in Caribbean Beat.

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MUSICAL_YOUTH_Cover_FRONT_Final“From the first pages, we get to witness the mental havoc that colorism creates. Colorism feeds on the perception we have of ourselves. It feeds on our perception of other people and on the perception other people have of us. Joanne Hillhouse is subtle in the way she approaches this theme with several points of view by highlighting different elements about the character involved. … Zahara finds confidence in herself and in her music. The apparent confidence Shaka showed at the beginning becomes real as he defines his identity as an artist. There’s nothing they can do about colorism, but they hold themselves accountable for their own prejudices before trying to let go of them. They knowingly choose each other. … What resonated with me was the discourse on what being Black is, on what being a young Caribbean girl/boy is in the 21st century. …I want it to become a Caribbean classic for the upcoming generations. And why not even get a film and/or TV adaptation to turn it into a time capsule and immortalize our era?” – Karukerament re Musical Youth

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“Gus Edwards is a new playwright to reckon with.” – The Hollywood Reporter

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“A new departure for drama by a black playwright.” –  NY Magazine

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“For a first play it is remarkable. ” – NY Times

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“The coming of age story is well crafted, lively and absolutely believable.” – Mickel Brann, on The Boy from Willow Bend in Daily Observer, 2003

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“…amazingly true characters…weaves a tapestry of village life in the Caribbean…captures the importance of women in social hierarchy of Caribbean households and the everyday issues that these same women have to deal with. She explores their sexuality, their love, their hate and their desperation to escape a life that seemingly goes nowhere – a dead end. Hillhouse also exhibits an incredible understanding of social issues in the Caribbean – child abandonment, abuse, promiscuity. She touches the problems of classism and the gulf that separates the ‘privileged’ and ‘not-so-privileged’…Quick, tight and thought provoking writing holds the reader in its grip…A lovely and engaging book that, in my opinion, is destined for the classrooms of Antigua, if not the entire Caribbean. This is a great and insightful look at Caribbean life and the future of our children.” – Karen Walwyn writing about The Boy from Willow Bend in the Expand Your World, Daily Observer, 2003

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“The book stands out as an example of self-redemption, self-motivation, and self-preservation…” – D. Gisele Isaac writing on The Boy from Willow Bend in She Caribbean, 2004

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“In the tradition of the best YA stories, Hillhouse’s characters are convincing because they’re unfailingly realistic in their interactions, interests, and struggles. Her players sound like actual people, and specifically like Antiguan teens. Through their personal journeys, readers learn about issues that affect young people in Antigua and across the globe, including internalized racism, colorism, economic inequality, generational trauma, and old-fashioned teenage angst. This is not to say that the book is heavy or maudlin in tone; on the contrary, Hillhouse’s writing is overwhelmingly joyful 3and explicitly invested in the power of Black joy, Black excellence, and Black self-love….A charming and edifying work with a romance that will make YA fans swoon.” –
Musical Youth reviewed by Kirkus Reviews

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