What are you reading this Summer? This is a frequent question as we move into the height of Summer and what is viewed as vacation time. To add to your list, we are recommending the works of two local and five Jamaican authors, the latter having been recently recognized in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine.
Beverley East is a leading expert in the field of handwriting analysis, a court-qualified forensic document examiner and author. She works in her home city of Washington, DC, and Jamaica. She is the author of Finding Mr. Write: A New Slant on Selecting the Perfect Mate (2000). Reaper of Souls: A Novel of the Kendal Crash (2007), Bat Mitzvah Girl – Memories of a Jamaican Child (2013).
You might want to read Reaper of Souls which uses the backdrop of the Kendal train crash in Jamaica to tell the story of the impact on Beverley’s family which lost 14 members in that crash. At the time, the Kendal crash was the world’s worst train catastrophe and the worst disaster in Jamaica’s history, taking more than 250 lives.
While the backdrop is the catastrophe Beverley tells the human stories of the relatives who remained in Jamaica and others who migrated to England to start new lives.
We caught up with Beverley and asked her what she is reading this summer. Beverley responded candidly, “ I am reading nothing at the moment as I am in the last stretch of finishing my own book “Whose signature is it Anyway? – Complexities of Caribbean Fraud. By the way, my book is not a novel. It’s a reference book on the work I do, the cases I have won and how. Half of it has been edited but I am fact-checking and making sure all is good —so during this process I cannot focus on other words of other authors . Once this is done ,hopefully in the next 6 weeks, I want to read more about Don Drummond and his life.”
For those not familiar with Don Drummond, according to a biography, “ he was a brilliant musician who forever shaped the course of ska, reggae, and popular music worldwide (playing the instrumental backup for Bob Marley and others), only to take the life of his lover and in so doing, destroy his career at the age of 30. In his short life Don Drummond created an enduring legacy despite poverty, class separation, mental illness, racial politics, and the exploitation of his work.”
Curdella Forbes, a local academic and author, was born in Jamaica, lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, and teaches at Howard University . She is the author of several novels: Tall History of Sugar (2019), Ghosts (2014), A Permanent Freedom (2008), Flying with Icarus (2003), and Songs Of Silence (2002).
The New York Times review of her most recent book, Tall History of Sugar, describes it as a novel of Jamaica brimming with magic, passion and history and a fit for grown-up fans of fairy tales and for those who love fiction that metes out hard and surprising truths.
While we were not able to catch up with Curdella in time for this article, if you like historical fiction, Curdella adeptly weaves in Jamaica’s history and culture and many insightful observations in a Tall History of Sugar.
Lastly, Oprah Winfrey’s 0 Magazine’s June edition lists Caribbean authors and books to check out this Summer, including five Jamaican authors:
- “Patsy” by Nicole Dennis-Benn
- “How to Love a Jamaican” by Alexia Arthurs
- “Augustown” by Kei Miller
- “These Ghosts Are Family” by Maisy Card
- “The Book of Night Women” by Marlon James
You can access this list online.