Caribbean Fiction in Toronto Public Library

July 14, 2017 | Michal

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Caribana Parade

I invite you to deepen your experience of Toronto's 50th Caribbean Carnival 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.

Caribben Fiction Display

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 and Great Britain. Here are just two of them:


  membering Austin Clarke

Before his death on June 26, 2016, 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).  

Caryl Philips Border Crossings Caryl Phillips

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.    

I hope you'll enjoy the sights and sounds of this year's Caribbean Carnival, 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.

Happy reading!