Friday, 11 October 2019

TALLAWAH BOOK CLUB: Olive Senior and Orlando Patterson return with captivating new works – plus, Lady Rheima Hall recaps her artistic journey

TROUBLE IN PARADISE: Since Independence, Jamaica has been hailed as the greatest little country in the world, boasting international achievements (from sports to music to academia) to rival the great superpowers. Yet in spite of these laudable accomplishments we continue to struggle with everything from crime to poverty to economic woes. In his latest offering, The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament, Orlando Patterson (The Children of Sisyphus) explores factors ranging from postcolonial politics to globalization to offer some answers and solutions. In the end, the critics agree, Patterson (the John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University whose honours include the Musgrave Gold Medal from the Institute of Jamaica and a National Book Award) not only addresses the Jamaica question, he exposes something fundamental about the modern world.

MANE ATTRACTION: Versatile and prolific doesn’t even begin to describe Olive Senior, whose expansive oeuvre includes acclaimed anthologies, short-story collections, non-fiction efforts and books for children. Your tiny tots will be delighted to get their hands on a copy of her latest release, Boonoonoonoos Hair, published by Blue Banyan Books. At the heart of the book, Senior notes, is a message rooted in self-care and self-acceptance and our unique Jamaicanness. “Since the book is about telling kids to love their hair, I wanted a word that signified admiration and had an old-time feel,” says the celebrated scribe, whose many accolades include the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Lit. “Boonoonoonoos conveys both [a] lovely sound and the wavy movement of curly hair. I wanted to bring the word back into our vocabulary but also to salute Miss Lou who often heaped boonoonoonoos praise on children.” Birthday Suit and Anna Carries Water are her other children’s books.

>> Collector’s item! How many of us know that in addition to being an educator, wife of former Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall, and the first principal of the Edna Manley College, Lady Rheima Hall is a visual artist of much repute? Add to your coffee-table Rheima – A Selection of Her Works, which brings together close to 100 reproductions of her doodles, ceramics, paintings and photographs, depicting everything from Jamaican landscapes to flora and fauna and still lifes. “God’s work inspires me,” Lady Hall says. “What he has produced I am trying to reproduce… Every piece is really a work of love.”

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