Beyond Literary Landscapes—Caribbean Literature

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This column serves as an introduction to works by authors from the Caribbean region, a reminder of some of the region’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.  In particular, this column covers the islands within the Caribbean Sea bordering the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Gulf of Mexico, north of South America, and east of Central America.

Some examples of well-known authors include Antiguan-American Jamaica Kincaid, Cuban Alejo Carpentier, Barbadian Austin Clarke, and Trinidadian-British V.S. Naipaul.

Born in 1959 in St. John’s Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid moved to New York City at the age of 16.  Kincaid is known for her essays, novels, and short stories, which often focus on Antigua, as well as on family relationships.

Alejo Carpentier was born in Lausanne, Switzerland before moving to Havana, Cuba during infancy.  The writer is known for his novels, essays, and plays, and is considered one of the first Latin American magic realists.

Born in 1934 in St. James, Barbados, Austin Clarke arrived in Toronto in 1955.  He is known for his novels, short stories, and journalism.

V.S. Naipaul was born in 1932 in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago before moving to England to study at the University of Oxford, England.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.


Some well-known novels include Kincaid’s A Small Place, Carpentier’s The Kingdom of this World, Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, and Clarke’s More.


Many of these works take place throughout the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Haiti, Barbados, and Antigua, as well as throughout England, Canada, and the United States.


Many of these novels take place during the 20 and 21st-centuries.


These works may be of interest to readers who would like to know more about the vast region of the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Antigua, Barbados, Haiti, family relationships, migration, colonialism and post-colonialism, decolonizing travel, and the Haitian Revolution.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Caribbean Literature are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with a counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may consider GLST 308: Americas: An Introduction to Latin America and the Caribbean, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “focuses on several countries—as well as an overview of the development of the region as a whole— and interprets the rich history that underlies the region’s cultures, contradictions, and uniqueness.”  In this course, students will learn about “authoritarianism and democracy, growth and poverty, race and class, the changing role of women, [I]ndigenous [P]eoples, movements for social change, and the foreign policy of the United States toward the region.”  (No prerequisites are required, but students should note that this course is currently under revision.)  Happy reading!

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