"How to Love a Jamaican" + A Guide to Caribbean Literature

Oct 29, 2018

Alexia Arthurs immigrated to New York from Jamaica when she was 12. It was a difficult transition at such a pivotal moment in her life. During this hour, she talks with host Charity Nebbe about her new book How to Love a Jamaican, a collection of short stories which were partly inspired by her own journey. 

Then, later in the hour, novelist and Cornell College professor Rebecca Entel joins the conversation to talk about Caribbean literature as its own genre. Her book Fingerprints of Previous Owners is set in the Caribbean. 

"Caribbean literature shows the complexities of diaspora," she says. "In the U.S., we have this myth of paradise, and we think of that part of the work as a place to escape from real life. It seems disconnected from stress and labor, and Caribbean literature breaks down that view and that myth.

Arthurs says the genre also recons with the history of Colonialism and how British influence still informs culture. She encourages American readers to delve into titles written by authors who are from Jamaica, like she is, and other Caribbean islands.

"I think we should be compelled in a moral sense to seek out stories that are different from our own," Arthurs says. 

Good Reads: Caribbean Literature Recommendations Alexia Arthurs and Rebecca Entel

  • How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs
  • Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
  • The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  • Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
  • Ayiti by Roxane Gay
  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
  • The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
  • Jamaica Kincaid, At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid
  • A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Omeros by Derek Walcott
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisernos
  • Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Krik? Krak! By Edwidge Danticat
  • The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson