Two books by Barbadian authors were among the top three in the Caribbean Literature in English or Creole category, of the 2018 Casa de las Amerícas Literary Awards which were announced in Havana, Cuba, on January 25.
‘Tracing JaJa’ by Anthony Kellman was the winner in the Novel Category, while ‘Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba,’ by Sharon Milagro Marshall received Honourable Mention in the Essay Category.
The jury consisted of Elizabeth Nunez of Trinidad and Tobago, Jacob Ross of Grenada, and Emilio Jorge Rodríguez of Cuba.
The judges described Tracing JaJa as, “an intense work of historical narration based on real events, revealing one of the atrocities of British colonial history. The work involves the reader both emotionally and intellectually. We admire and transport ourselves to Kellman’s depiction of African King Jubo Jubogha, his resilience and his refusal to submit to the humiliations imposed by his British colonial vigilantes.
“Much of the strength of Kellman’s work lies in his lyrical recreation of locations, especially the Caribbean landscape The portrayal of Barbadians captures both their pride in the African past and the suffering experienced. [It] is an extraordinary novel about human experience, our ability to find beauty and love in the most dark circumstances.”
‘Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba’ chronicles the experiences of Barbadians and other British West Indians who migrated to Cuba in search of a better life during the early part of the Twentieth Century.
Ethnologist and Social Scientist, Carlos Moore, assessed the book as “a very interesting and historically required piece of work. It is written well and stands on its own feet as historical prose.
“It is incomparably relevant as a sociological documentation of the times and circumstances of a people who had to grow roots in a foreign environment, adapt, resist and develop a whole new set of principles founded on the bedrock of the initial home-grown ones. It is a tale of resilience, bravery and ability to bend without breaking. It is sure to become The source on the subject of Barbadian migration to and settlement in Cuba.”
Casa de las Américas was founded by the Cuban Government in April 1959, to develop and extend socio-cultural relations with the countries of Latin America, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
Kamau Brathwaite was previously the last Barbadian to win an annual Casa Award for his poetic anthology, ‘The Dancers of Time’, when he was awarded the José Lezama Lima Poetry Prize in 2011. His previous prizes were for MR in 1998, Roots in 1986, and Black + Blues in 1976. In 1980, Austin Clarke won for his novel Growing up Stupid Under the Union Jack.
Loop News. 28 January 2018