If, like many in this city, you'll be celebrating Caribana Toronto 2016 (Caribana Weekend: July 28 - July 31 and Toronto Caribbean Carnival Parade: July 30), you may want to deepen your experience by immersing yourself in literature about the Caribbean. Whether fiction or nonfiction, you might be advised to start by browsing one of the Library's four Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collections. These collections are named in honour of Dr. Rita Cox, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, who joined Toronto Public Library in 1960 as a children's librarian, and was a long-time Branch Head of Parkdale branch (1974 - 1995). She has received many awards and honours, and was even invested into the Order of Canada in 1997. She is also greatly admired as a community activist and leader in the Black and Caribbean community, and is renowned as a storyteller in North America, Europe, Brazil and the Caribbean.
At Home in the Diaspora
There are many well-known authors originally from the Caribbean who now make their home in other countries such as Canada, the United States and Great Britain. Here are just three of them:
Before his death on June 26, Canadian (and Torontonian) Caribbean writer Austin Clarke was one of the many distinguished authors who served as Writer In Residence at Toronto Public Library (at the Toronto Reference Library). In 2002, I had the privilege of meeting him and observing him work. Coincidentally, not long before that, I had also had the good fortune to spend a couple of restful weeks in his home country of Barbados. Mr. Clarke was the author of many short story and poetry collections, as well as novels. His novels are: The Survivors of the Crossing (1964), Amongst Thistles and Thorns (1965), The Meeting Point (1972), Storm of Fortune (1973), The Bigger Light (1975), The Prime Minister (1977), Proud Empires (1986;1988), The Origin of Waves (1997), The Question (1999), The Polished Hoe (2002), and More (2008). Like Rita Cox, among Mr. Clarkes' many honours and awards is an Order of Canada (1998).
American Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid, originally from Antigua, is "considered one of the most important of women Caribbean writers" [Your Dictionary. Jamaica Kincaid Facts], writing both nonfiction and fiction. Her novels are: Annie John (1985), Lucy (1990), The Autobiography of My Mother (1996), Mr.Potter (2002), and See Now Then (2013). Among her numerous awards is the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, awarded in recognition for "books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures." [About. The Awards. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards]
British Caribbean writer Caryl Phillips, originally from Saint Kitts, began his literary career writing for theatre, but has since written many nonfiction books, as well as several novels. His novels are: The Final Passage (1985), A State of Independence (1986), Higher Ground (1989), Cambridge (1991), Crossing the River (1993), The Nature of Blood (1997), A Distant Shore (2003), Dancing in the Dark (2005), Foreigners (2007), In the Falling Snow (2009), and The Lost Child (2015). He is the recipient of several awards and honours, including the 2013 Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence.
To find more novels or literary nonfiction by Caribbean writers, or set in or about the Caribbean, try this electronic resource.
To further your understanding of Caribbean literature, the Languages and Literature department of Toronto Reference Library has many scholarly books on various aspects of the subject. Here is a sample:
Other Electronic Resources
I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds of the 48th annual Caribbean festival, whether you're dancing along with the infectious rhythm of Calypso, Soca or Steelpan music, or just sitting back and taking delight in the elaborate costumes, props and energetic dancers. If you aren't already inspired to read more about the Caribbean, you probably will be after your experience. Toronto Public Library's many resources, some of which I've mentioned here, will help fulfill that desire.