Saturday, 18 April 2020

TALLAWAH BOOK CLUB: Curdella Forbes wows the critics / Kei Miller’s latest / A UWI scholar tackles indigenous J’can cinema

ONCE UPON A MATTRESS: When was the last time you witnessed the work of a contemporary Caribbean female author drawing comparisons to that of Marlon James and Kei Miller? Jamaican-born Howard University professor Curdella Forbes has earned that distinction for her critically acclaimed novel A Tall History of Sugar, a finalist for the 2020 OCM Bocas Literary Prize. Published by Akashic Books, this remarkable story (which Vanity Fair has classified alongside James’ John Crow’s Devil and Miller’s Augusttown) follows the mysterious love affair of a couple (Moshe and Arienne) from childhood to adulthood, across the rocky terrain of rural Jamaica, and from the streets of the Corporate Area to the hustle-and-bustle of the English capital. The critics are simply in awe of Forbes’ accomplishment, landing her book on several Best-of-2019 lists. “The premise is ingenious,” raves the UK’s Guardian, “and the novel is an epic modern fairy-tale.”

LOST AND FOUND: Forward Prize winner Kei Miller’s oeuvre spans fiction (The Last Warner Woman), non-fiction (Writing Down the Vision) and the kind of poetry best described as bruising and endlessly provocative. In Nearby Bushes, his latest collection of verse, falls right in line, exploring “his strongest landscape yet,” a world in which “it is both possible to hide and heal, a landscape marked as much by magic as it is by murder.” A recipient of the Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica for his contribution to the literary arts, Miller holds a Doctorate from the University of Glasgow. His previous poetry collections include There is An Anger That Moves and The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion

SHARP FOCUS: As we wait out this Covid-19 pandemic, film buffs and scholars can pick up a copy of the recently launched Show Us As We Are: Place, Nation and Identity in Jamaican Film (UWI Press) by Dr. Rachel Moseley-Wood. She presents readers with a series of discussions on 11 well-known Jamaican-made films, alternately examining their complexities, sophistication and artistry. At the same time, Moseley-Wood (lit and film studies lecturer and now Head of the Department of Literatures in English at UWI Mona) assesses Jamaica as “a hedonistic paradise,” even as she challenges the unifying narratives of nationhood. “It’s essential reading,” says Dr. Jean Antoine-Dunne, “for those who wish to challenge the status quo.”

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