Sheena Kamal

Sheena Kamal, author of No Going Back (HarperCollins) and Fight Like A Girl (PRH Canada Young Readers).

As more Caribbean novels which explore dark and dystopia worlds emerge to great acclaim globally, the question arises whether this trend is here to stay or is it too fantastical to be real?

In Crome and Wonderment, the current 6-part season of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest online author conversation series, “Bios and Bookmarks”, three more writers: Trinidadian novelist Tracey Baptiste; Trinidad-born novelist Sheena Kamal; and Courttia Newland, of Jamaican and Barbadian parentage, line up for tales of wonderment.

The three previous episodes brought readers closer to Jacob Ross, master writer of whodunits, Monique Roffey, whose magical mermaid tale recently won the coveted Costa Book Award 2020, and P. Djèlí Clark, whose bold weaving of the legends of the Gullah Geechee people with Klan stories in Ring Shout has left readers in awe.

Noting the public’s eager response to the season’s most recent episodes, founder and director of the NGC Bocas LitFest, Marina Salandy-Brown reflected, “I am wondering why we have been slow to tap into genre literature. It must be that we were schooled into thinking about literature in a formal way, where enjoyment was not the prime purpose. Our writers have been more wary of genre fiction, but we see that mould being broken, as readers welcome the opportunity to have their imaginations stretched and enter worlds unknown to them.”

Today, Tracey Baptiste reads from The Jumbies, a three-part series which has been a hit with younger readers (8-12 years old). On February 28, Sheena Kamal, another author of a trilogy featuring a strong female protagonist, will discuss No Going Back, the third instalment of the Nora Watts series, written for lovers of a twisting crime suspense.

Closing off the season in style on Sunday 7 March will be Courttia Newland, whose latest novel, A River Called Time, presents a near-future dystopian London fashioned from an alternate history where Europe and Africa’s relationship has been defined by knowledge transfer rather than imperialism and conquest. Newland is best known for his script-writing genius on the Small Axe BBC series, which highlighted the black Caribbean’s contributions to Britain.

Bios and Bookmarks airs live on Sundays at 3 p.m. on the NGC Bocas Lit Fest Facebook page, offering a chance to engage virtually with top Caribbean authors.

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