#IndoCaribbeanReadathon 2022 Reading Guide



May 2022 is the second annual #IndoCaribbeanReadathon. Last year the idea came about as a way to celebrate Indo-Caribbean history and culture during the month that acknowledges multiple Indian Arrival Days throughout the Caribbean. This list by no means includes every Indo-Caribbean book out there, but is meant to be used a guide to get your Indo-Caribbean reading started.



Fiction

An intensely beautiful, searingly powerful, tightly constructed novel, Brother explores questions of masculinity, family, race, and identity as they are played out in a Scarborough housing complex during the sweltering heat and simmering violence of the summer of 1991.


With shimmering prose and mesmerizing precision, David Chariandy takes us inside the lives of Michael and Francis. They are the sons of Trinidadian immigrants, their father has disappeared and their mother works double, sometimes triple shifts so her boys might fulfill the elusive promise of their adopted home.



Mona, a film researcher rooted in Montreal, vividly remembers that night in Trinidad when her father, Da-Da, in a drunken rage, threatened to kill her nine-year-old brother, Kello. Years later, a terminally ill Kello asks Mona to revisit their native island and reclaim the property that their family had left behind. As Mona returns to the Caribbean to confront her family's turbulent past, the reader travels back in time—to nineteenth-century India, to British Trinidad, where her ancestors lived as indentured workers in the cane fields, and finally to urban North America.



An electrifying novel of an unconventional family in Trinidad mended by their individual, and collective, quests for love


After Betty Ramdin's husband dies, she invites a colleague, Mr. Chetan, to move in with her and her son, Solo. Over time, the three become a family, loving each other deeply and depending upon one another. Then, one fateful night, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan and learns a secret that plunges him into torment.




Fiction. Asian American Studies. The English-speaking Caribbean countries have produced a prolific and great literature in the past fifty years. This anthology highlights the works of Indo-Caribbean fiction writers, of whom a substantial number are also Canadians. Included here is a broad spectrum of writers dealing with themes varying from the historical, with works set in the colonial past, to the more modern, in writing concerned with the complex interactions of contemporary life in the Caribbean and abroad in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.



Set on the fictional Caribbean island of Guanagaspar around the time of the Second World War, and in modern-day Vancouver, He Drown She in the Sea, fulfills the promise of Shani Mootoo’s internationally acclaimed debut novel, Cereus Blooms at Night.


At the centre of the story is Harry St. George, the son of a laundress, and the unrequited love he bears for a woman, Rose, the daughter of a wealthy man, whom he knew as a child. Looking back to his past, evoking the rich culture and texture of his Caribbean boyhood, and the life of his mother, Dolly, Harry reveals his friendship with Rose, and the events that will continue to haunt him across time and place. When Rose arrives suddenly in Vancouver, where Harry has built a hard-earned life for himself, the two embark on an impossible affair that will have tragic consequences.



The Indo-Caribbean community carries a distinct history and culture that took its shape when our ancestors came from India to the Caribbean as indentured labourers more than 150 years ago. From the beginning, our community has had many talented storytellers who have passed down history, folktales, and the experiences of our people, paving the way for each generation that followed. Two Times Removed brings together a curated collection of sixteen short stories written by the new generation of Indo-Caribbean storytellers. For many of us who have been raised outside of our home countries, our identity is a delicate balance of Indian roots, Caribbean heritage and North American upbringing.



Classic stories by: C.L.R. James, Derek Walcott, Samuel Selvon, Eric Roach, V.S. Naipaul, Harold Sonny Ladoo, Michael Anthony, Earl Lovelace, Robert Antoni, Elizabeth Nunez, Ismith Khan, Lawrence Scott, Wayne Brown, Jennifer Rahim, Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, Sharon Millar, Barbara Jenkins, and Shani Mootoo.







From early in her life, Kamla is surprised by a contrary inner voice which frequently gainsays the wisdom of her elders and betters. But Kamla is growing up in a traditional Hindu community and attending schools in colonial Trinidad where rote learning is still the order of the day. She learns that this voice creates nothing but trouble and silences it. In this book, the voice is freed.






Many of us who leave home are constantly in search of some way of returning..." Curry Cascadoo tells the story of a tragic period in the life of a Caribbean immigrant to New York. Troubled by loneliness, failing health and a longing for life as he remembers it in his native Trinidad, he struggles desperately to complete work on a novel he'd been writing for many years. As he stumbles towards his ultimate goal, he's haunted by memories of past relationships and thoughts about the true significance of his life. The story is told in the form of letters, poetry and recollections. Curry Cascadoo combines strong feelings of joy and suffering, love and loneliness, nostalgia and doom and provides compelling storytelling throughout.



Priya and Alexandra have moved from the city to a picturesque countryside town. What Alex doesn’t know is that in moving, Priya is running from her past—from a fraught relationship with an old friend, Prakash, who pursued her for many years, both online and off. Time has passed, however, and Priya, confident that her ties to Prakash have been successfully severed, decides it’s once more safe to establish an online presence. In no time, Prakash discovers Priya online and contacts her. Impulsively, inexplicably, Priya invites him to visit her and Alex in the country, without ever having come clean with Alex about their relationship— or its tumultuous end. Prakash’s sudden arrival at their home reveals cracks in Priya and Alex’s relationship and brings into question Priya’s true intentions.



“Yuh Can’t Stop de Carnival” takes us on an adventurous romp through the eyes of an intrepid West Indian woman who looks at life in the Caribbean through the urbane eyes of a foreigner but with the familiarity of a native. Maya Patel opens her dream café although the “knockoff Starbucks” is anything but a dream, and nightmares begin on day one with kitchen chaos leading to bootlegging on the high seas. This is a story about five fascinating, multicultural women who couldn’t be more different from each other, yet they found common ground in love for each other and their fight for justice. The author presents the reader with a wonderfully accurate portrayal of living in everyone else’s idea of paradise in this humorous and dark West Indian tale of love and adventure. Set against the backdrop of historical references to Carnival across the Caribbean, all presented in authentic West Indian banter, this story will make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings at the same time.



Aleyah Hassan explores the mystery that surrounds her grandmother, Nani, in this tale of cross-generational revolutionary politics. Aleyah learns that the now-silent Nani once had a great deal to say, bravely speaking on behalf of the sugar workers of their village in a time when Guyanese women did not speak out. As Aleyah grows up she begins to see herself in Nani's mold, and is torn between a promising academic career and the radical politics that once moved her grandmother to action. Throughout this novel, family secrets are portrayed with both social realism and poetic imagination, and themes of class, race, and gender are explored incisively.



Set on a fictional Caribbean island in the town of Paradise, Cereus Blooms at Night unveils the mystery surrounding Mala Ramchandin and the tempestuous history of her family. At the heart of this bold and seductive novel is an alleged crime committed many years before the story opens. Mala is the reclusive old woman suspected of murder who is delivered to the Paradise Alms House after a judge finds her unfit to stand trial. When she arrives at her new home, frail and mute, she is placed in the tender care of Tyler, a vivacious male nurse, who becomes her unlikely confidante and the storyteller of Mala's extraordinary life.In luminous, sensual prose, internationally acclaimed writer Shani Mootoo combines diverse storytelling traditions to explore identity, gender, and violence in a celebration of our capacity to love.



Winning a million dollar lottery jackpot is a once in a lifetime miracle. Winning major lottery jackpots more than once or almost at will is jailbait. Sunil Ratan, a quiet Toronto accountant discovers this truth as his unaccountable Midas touch drags him and the reader on the wildest of wild rides as he becomes the terror of lottery boards and the target of outstretched hands demanding to share his wealth or the secret of his success. Sunil, his wife Sushila and accountant sidekick Ramesh find that it’s as dangerous to share lotto wealth as not to share, as risky to talk about it or not to talk. Gambling games are made to strip losers of money, not to hand out cash against all odds. The tale is nothing if not fast moving, full of unexpected twists and often hilarious, leading to a thunderous climax. It can be an education too. What would you do if you won even a single lottery jackpot?



The only things Cassandra knows about her family are the stories she's heard in snatches over the years: about the aunt and cousin she never got to meet, about the man from the folded-up photograph in one of her aunt's drawers, and of course about her cousin Chevy, and his troubled past - but no one utters a word about them any more.






Non-Fiction


There, in a lush landscape of fire-petaled immortelle trees and vast plantations of coffee and cocoa, where the three hills along the southern coast act as guardians against hurricanes, Krystal A. Sital grew up idolizing her grandfather, a wealthy Hindu landowner. Years later, to escape crime and economic stagnation on the island, the family resettled in New Jersey, where Krystal’s mother works as a nanny, and the warmth of Trinidad seems a pretty yet distant memory. But when her grandfather lapses into a coma after a fall at home, the women he has terrorized for decades begin to speak, and a brutal past comes to light.


The history of Trinidad begins with a delusion: the belief that somewhere nearby on the South American mainland lay El Dorado, the mythical kingdom of gold. In this extraordinary and often gripping book, V. S. Naipaul–himself a native of Trinidad–shows how that delusion drew a small island into the vortex of world events, making it the object of Spanish and English colonial designs and a mecca for treasure-seekers, slave-traders, and revolutionaries.




Indo-Caribbean women writers are virtually invisible in the literary landscape because of cultural and social inhibitions and literary chauvinism. Until recently, the richness and particularities of the experiences of these writers in the field of literature and literary studies were compromised by stereotypical representations of the Indo-Caribbean women that were narrated from a purely masculine or an Afrocentric point of view. This book fills an important gap in an important but underestimated emergent field.



A collection of true and extraordinary stories that speak of the abuse suffered by Guyanese women, girls, and members of the LGBT community both in their native country and after having emigrated to the United States. Through carefully crafted prose and poetic undertones, the author, Elizabeth Jaikaran, reveals accounts of the horrific violence and trauma through the lens of Guyanese culture and history. Along with these stories are points of fact, gathered from newspapers, agency studies, and governmental records, that illustrate the far-reaching existence and impact of violence and strict cultural norms. Also on display in these stories is the strength and resilience of Guyanese women as they have struggled to survive and flourish. This story of a small and often overlooked culture has needed to be told, and Jaikaran tells it with amazing courage and grace.



The abolition of slavery was the catalyst for the arrival of the first Indian indentured labourers into the sugar colonies of Mauritius (1834), Guyana (1838) and Trinidad (1845), followed some years later by the inception of the system in South Africa (1860) and Fiji (1879). By the time indenture was abolished in the British Empire (1917–20), over one million Indians had been contracted, the overwhelming majority of whom never returned to India. Today, an Indian indentured labour diaspora is to be found in Commonwealth countries including Belize, Kenya, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles.



In 1903, a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a “coolie”—the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world. Pregnant and traveling alone, this woman, like so many coolies, disappeared into history. In Coolie Woman—shortlisted for the 2014 Orwell Prize—her great-granddaughter Gaiutra Bahadur embarks on a journey into the past to find her. Traversing three continents and trawling through countless colonial archives, Bahadur excavates not only her great-grandmother’s story but also the repressed history of some quarter of a million other coolie women, shining a light on their complex lives.



Maharanis Misery sheds new light on the ordeal of indentured Indians, especially women, as they crossed the oceans to labour on sugar plantations in the Caribbean (and elsewhere) in the nineteenth century. Narrating the tragedy of a young woman who died on one such passage, apparently after being raped by crewmen, the book analyses sexploitation as a routine aspect of the voyages of the coolie ships. The testimonies of those who gave evidence to the resulting enquiry in 1885 are included verbatim, an attempt to recover the voices of some of the indenture's, men and women, voices we rarely hear in the official documentation. This book is a valuable addition to the growing literature on nineteenth-century indentured Indian immigration/emigration and a gripping account of one woman's tragedy.



Poetry


This collection brings together unpublished poems, uncollected poems, and poems from the previous three collection of the late Mahadai Das. In her personal and political triumphs and losses, this book explores the poet’s Indo-Guyanese background, her youthful nationalist fervor, and her disillusionment with post-independence politics. Also included are poems that explore private themes and address illness and death with disarming directness.




This poetry book contains 101 poems and is divided into three chapters: The Great Fall, Healing & Restoration, and Thriving. The chapters serve as a compilation of my personal journey with sexual abuse, psychological trauma, and pathways of healing and restoring my life where I wouldn’t just survive, but instead thrive. The pain and suffering I endured over the years had a hidden purpose, which was revealed to me during a divine awakening. It has been the propelling force that inspired me to write this book, which serves as a message to both adult and young women. I would like them to know that it's OKAY to be vocal on sexual abuse and mental health related issues instead of carrying that burden alone. There are many resources and services out there for those having experienced trauma and most importantly, there is HOPE.



From first loves to first heartbreaks, we used to waitress is a debut poetry collection about youth, love and coming of age as a brown girl in America.


Based on author, Jihan Ramroop's experiences, this poetry memoir follows her from childhood to college. Between glimpses of alcohol and anxiety to generational trauma and healing, this collection shows one girl's journey in being both vulnerable and unapologetic. A nostalgic and cozy poetry collection, we used to waitress, is about learning when to stop waiting and start living.



From Here to The Stars is Bethany Sukhnanan's debut poetry book. This book is a selection from a body of work that spans 7 years. The themes of this book can range from pain and love, to racism, sorrow, and hope. The goal of this book is to share these experiences, in the hope that these words will help other young women who may be experiencing the same things.






Sujaya Devi is a Canadian-Indo-Trinidadian author. Sujaya writes about realities that are often concealed. The title, Devil, is a play on her middle name. Devi, a Sanskrit name, means ‘of excellence, heavenly, or goddess.’ Sujaya contrasts the negative experiences and emotions associated with mental health and relationships with the expectations of excellence that come with being a strong female figure fighting internal and external battles.