Books about Caribbean Heritage

June 9, 2015

Books about Caribbean Heritage

June is Caribbean Heritage Month, and to celebrate we are highlighting some books that are either about Caribbean culture and history or books written by well-known Caribbean authors. All these books can be borrowed from the Roslindale Branch Library.


By Esmeralda Santiago

Drawn to the exotic island of Puerto Rico by the diaries of an ancestor who traveled there with Ponce de León, Ana Cubillas becomes involved with enamored twin brothers Ramón and Inocente before convincing them to claim a sugar plantation they have inherited.

The Wretched of the Earth (eBook)
By Frantz Fanon

The Wretched of the Earth is an analysis of the psychology of the colonized and their path to liberation. A veritable handbook of social reorganization for leaders of emerging nations, The Wretched of the Earth has had a major impact on civil rights, anti-colonialism, and black-consciousness movements around the world.

A Small Place
By Jamaica Kincaid

An extended essay on the British West Indies island of Antigua, the author’s home, describing its scenery, its people, and its history, and discussing the impacts of colonization and tourism.

A House for Mr Biswas
By V.S. Naipaul

This is the story of Mohun Biswas, an Indo-Trinidadian who continually strives for success and mostly fails, who marries into the Tulsi family only to find himself dominated by it, and who finally sets the goal of owning his own house. Drawing some elements from the life of Naipaul’s father, the work is primarily a sharply drawn look at life that uses postcolonial perspectives to view a vanished colonial world.

Brother, I’m Dying
By Edwidge Danticut

Edwidge Danticat describes the relationship between her father, Mira, and his older brother, Joseph, discussing how their relationship changed from their childhood in Haiti through their immigration to America to their eventual separation.

Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey
By Colin Grant

This groundbreaking biography captures the full sweep and epic dimensions of Marcus Garvey’s life, the dazzling triumphs and the dreary exile. As Grant shows, Garvey was a man of contradictions: a self-educated, poetry-writing aesthete and unabashed propagandist, an admirer of Lenin, and a dandy given to elaborate public displays. Above all, he was a shrewd promoter whose use of pageantry evoked a lost African civilization and fired the imagination of his followers. Negro With a Hat restores Garvey to his place as one of the founders of black nationalism and a key figure of the 20th century.

Collected Poems
By Derek Walcott

This book includes most of the poems in each of Derek Walcott’s seven collections, as selected by the poet, and the complete text of Another Life – a narrative poem of over four thousand lines that J. D. McClatchy, writing in The New Republic, praised as “one of the best long autobiographical poems in English, with the narrative sweep, the lavish layering of details, and the mythic resonance of a certain classic.”

A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present
By Jon Roganzinski

Offered as a brief history of a diverse and intriguing region, this work is a veritable sourcebook of information about the Caribbean, ranging from the climate to vegetation to colonial history to politics. The book, in five parts, covers Spanish rule, the northern European influence, the sugar empire, independence, and post-World War I development. Textual clarity, access to straightforward tables covering primarily demographic information, and various statistics will prove useful to the reader looking for a ready reference source. The author delivers on his claim to provide analysis as well as description, and the general reader will find many interesting interpretations and much data.

Haiti: A Shattered Nation
By Elizabeth Abbott

‘Haiti’ is an account of the ruling Duvalier family and its legacy. Duvalierism drove a million people into exile and was responsible for the torture of hundreds of thousands. Their oppression shaped modern Haiti as Elizabeth Abbott demonstrates as she traces the repercussions of their actions to the present day.

The Dead Yard: A Modern Story About Jamaica
By Ian Thomson

Details the most famous aspects of Jamaica, the music and its culture, as well as the Island’s history, including the slave trade operated by Britain. Since independence in 1962, Jamaica has acquired a twin image as a resort-style travel Eden and as a new kind of Hell, presided over by drug lords. In seeking to answer the question of what lies between, the author talked with Jamaicans who are trying to make a difference: writers, priests, and musicians.

Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits
By David Ortiz

Raised in the Dominican Republic, signed by the Seattle Mariners, and released by the Minnesota Twins, David Ortiz landed in baseball-crazy Boston. Generally regarded as an underachiever up to that point in his career, Ortiz blossomed into one of the most feared and adored sluggers in baseball while altering the course of the game’s history by helping Boston win its first World Series in eighty-six years, breaking the infamous “Curse of the Bambino.” Along the way, Ortiz established his place as a truly Ruthian figure in the annals of our national pastime: an imposing figure in the batter’s box, yet an endearing man to the young, particularly in his native Dominican Republic, where he has focused his charitable efforts on improving the health of children.

The Fortunes of Frances Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir
By Michael Bundock

This compelling book chronicles a young boy’s journey from the horrors of Jamaican slavery to the heart of London’s literary world, and reveals the unlikely friendship that changed his life. Francis Barber, born in Jamaica, was brought to London by his owner in 1750 and became a servant in the household of the renowned Dr. Samuel Johnson.


The Poet Slave of Cuba
By Margarita Engle

Juan Francisco Manzano was born in 1797 into the household of wealthy slaveowners in Cuba. He spent his early years at the side of his owner’s wife, entertaining her friends. His poetry was his outlet, reflecting the beauty and cruelty of his world. Written in verse.

The Color of My Words
By Lynn Joseph

When life gets difficult for Ana Rosa, a twelve-year-old would-be writer living in a small village in the Dominican Republic, she can depend on her older brother to make her feel better–until the life-changing events on her thirteenth birthday.

Open the Door to Liberty: A Biography of Toussaint L’Ouverture
By Anne Rockwell

Describes how an African slave, Toussaint L’Ouverture, lead his fellow slaves of the island of St. Domingue (now Haiti) to revolt against the white plantation owners to gain their freedom and influence the course of world history.

World Stage: Jamaica
By Kehinde Wiley

In the works reproduced in Kehinde Wiley: The World Stage Jamaica, the artist paints young, urban Jamaican men and women in poses appropriated from colonial-era British portraiture, who are placed against and intertwined with backgrounds from British textile designer William Morris. Wiley thus restages history: the race and gender of the colonial hero have been transformed. The dignified, strong pose refers not only to the conventions of the genre, but also to the symbolism of Jamaican culture and its particular ideals of style and beauty.

Fifty Caribbean Writers
By Daryl Dance

Caribbean literature is an emerging literature with origins perhaps only as recent as the 20th century. Nevertheless, it boasts major efforts by indisputable talents such as V. S. Naipaul and Jamaica Kincaid, and the number of distinguished Caribbean writers is growing. Dance’s work answers a definite need for quality biographical and critical information on these writers. Each of its entries includes a biographical sketch, description of major works and themes, summary of critical response, and bibliography of works by and about the author.

Going Home
By Nicholasa Mohr

Feeling like an outsider when she visits her relatives in Puerto Rico for the first time, eleven-year-old Felita tries to come to terms with the heritage she always took for granted.

Bob Marley
By Sherry Beck Paprocki

One of the most popular musicians of the 20th century, Bob Marley lives on as an icon of reggae music. This informative biography provides an excellent introduction to the celebrated singer/songwriter, guitarist, and activist. Marley grew up in the Trenchtown slum of Kingston, Jamaica. By age 14, he left school to work as a welder’s apprentice; by 18, he joined a singing group that became one of Jamaica’s hottest musical acts. Readers will learn how Bob Marley and the Wailers made reggae music mainstream for audiences around the world. They’ll also discover how Marley became an international symbol of peace, love, and struggle against oppression before his death at age 36.

Cuba: My Revolution
By Iverna Lockpez

From the moment Fidel Castro captures Havana in 1959, 17-year-old Sonya believes in the promise of the Cuban Revolution. A medical student who dreams of becoming a painter, she joins the militia and finds herself caught between idealism and ideology. As a volunteer medic at the Bay of Pigs, she’s imprisoned and tortured by her own comrades. Physically and emotionally scarred upon returning home, Sonya searches for fulfillment in art. But when she realizes that none of her efforts, by gun or brush, fall in line with Castro’s regime, Sonya must make agonizing choices between her family, her lover and her beloved country. This graphic novel is inspired by the true experiences of first-time author and Havana-born artist Inverna Lockpez.

Minding Ben
By Victoria Brown

In the tradition of The Nanny Diaries, this is a riveting debut novel that follows an idealistic young woman as she leaves Trinidad for a new life in New York City–as a nanny.


Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale
By Marisa Montes

Although he tries to do exactly as his mother tells him, foolish Juan Bobo keeps getting things all wrong.

The Faithful Friend
By Robert San Souci

A retelling of the traditional tale from the French West Indies in which two friends, Clement and Hippolyte, encounter love, zombies, and danger on the island of Martinique.

One Love
By Cedella Marley

In this illustrated version of Bob Marley’s song, a young girl enlists her friends, family, and community to transform their neighborhood for the better.

Tiger Soup: An Anansi Story From Jamaica
By Frances Temple

After tricking Tiger into leaving the soup he has been cooking, Anansi the spider eats the soup himself and manages to put the blame on the monkeys.

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