Wednesday, 16 March 2016

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Erna Brodber shares the books that made a difference

BETWEEN THE COVERS: Brodber's literary faces range from cool classics to poignant poetry.

Putting pen to paper as she brings those ideas to rousing life on the page is all in a day’s work for author Dr. Erna Brodber. But, by her own admission, she equally enjoys being engrossed by an intriguing pageturner, whether it’s poetry, fiction or non-fiction. Tonnes of titles rank high on her list of all-time favourites but, naturally, there are those reads that moved her so deeply, transforming for her the reading experience, that they now top her Most Memorable List.

[Aphra Behn’s] The Rover warrants an early mention. “For me, it’s a very important book and it was very well written. I have a big interest in history and it deals with a part of the French Revolution, which I find appealing,” Brodber shares. Closer to home, she cites Vic Reid’s New Day, whose blend of narrative verve and Jamaican history is a powerful blend. “In this story, Reid is attempting to look at the Morant Bay Rebellion and making a link between the old people of Morant Bay and the newer generation of Jamaicans. It’s the West Indian book I enjoyed the most growing up.”

And speaking of growing up, in her youth she was terribly fond of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age saga Little Women. “Even though I’m a Jamaican, I identified with those girls growing up,” says the author, whose own oeuvre includes the young-women-on-the-rise classic Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home. When it comes to poetry, Brodber readily mentions Kamau Brathwaites’s Rite of Passage collection. “Again I’m drawn to the historical angle. It’s his attempt to write our history because our history is so unwritten.”

From her own acclaimed body of work, she chooses Myal. “It has won a lot of awards. I enjoyed writing it, and I like it very much,” she offers. “And I think the themes that the story explores are still relevant. A book like Myal will never die.”

> STILL WRITING: What’s next for the author?
“I’m not working on anything fiction. My writing life is more non-fiction than fiction,” the 75-year-old sociologist and retired lecturer tells TALLAWAH. “I’m currently working on a set of essays on African-Jamaican and African-American relations.” So how’s life at her age? “I’m comfortable. I’m happy. I enjoy living in the country [St. Mary], which is where I’m heading now.”

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