Dear readers:
For our sixth anniversary in May 2010, The Caribbean Review of Books has launched a new website at www.caribbeanreviewofbooks.com. Antilles has now moved to www.caribbeanreviewofbooks.com/antilles — please update your bookmarks and RSS feed. If you link to Antilles from your own blog or website, please update that too!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

R.I.P. Wordsworth McAndrew, 1936-2008

The Guyanese writer, folklorist, and broadcaster Wordsworth McAndrew--"one of the most influential advocates for the collection, preservation and celebration of Guyanese folk life", as today's Stabroek News puts it, in some ways the Guyanese equivalent of Louise Bennett--died yesterday in New Jersey, at the age of 72. The Signifyin' Guyana blog has posted a tribute to McAndrew by his friend and colleague John Rickford:

I learned a lot from Mac over the years. He had an absolute love for Guyanese "culchuh" as he put it--and an infinite interest in every variant of every tradition (queh queh, obeah, cumfa), song, story, game, way of cooking, eating, celebrating, and so on that Guyanese and West Indian peoples of every ethnic group had inherited and transformed. I learned a lot from him about how to do fieldwork well. For instance, if someone said they played a game called "Airy Dory," and asked if he'd ever heard of it, he'd either say "No," (although I knew he had heard several accounts of it already) or otherwise indicate that he wanted to hear this particular person's version. Invariably, some new detail, some local variant would emerge in the course of the narration, and his understanding of the full range and complexity (and perhaps history) of that cultural institution would be enriched in the process.

Signifyin' Guyana collects a number of other tributes here. See also this 2004 profile by Vibert Cambridge, and read McAndrew's best-known poem, "Ol' Higue", here.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

"Homme-volcan, Homme-révolte...."

Chimurenga, the literary journal based in Cape Town, has posted two tributes to Aimé Césaire on its website: a poem, "Quand Aimé Césaire disparut", by Henri-Michel Yéré, and "Aimé Césaire: Le volcan s’est éteint", an essay by Achille Mbembe.

Quand Aimé Césaire disparut, les morceaux de roc étalés au sol regardaient ébahis le dos de leur briseur qui prit son envol, pris de lumière, et que l’on fût à Dakar, à Paris, au Cap ou à Fort-de-France, tous virent la même étoile allumer les horizons sans fin du possible;

Quand Aimé Césaire disparut, nous entendîmes les pleurs et les regrets d’honneurs mal répartis ; pourtant mon cœur et ma pensée complices ne sommes que le temple de son chant, constant émetteur d’essentiel....

(Look out for essays on Césaire's legacy by J. Michael Dash and Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw in the forthcoming May issue of the CRB.)

Monday, 21 April 2008

Hommage à Césaire

Before Aimé Césaire, only three French writers were given the honour of a state funeral: Victor Hugo, Paul Valéry, and Colette. Both Le Monde and Le Figaro point this out in their coverage of Césaire's funeral on Sunday afternoon in Fort-de-France. Both newspapers have also posted galleries of images of the ceremonies.

Le Monde: "Fort-de-France se recueille lors des obsèques nationales d'Aimé Césaire"; gallery here.

Le Figaro: "La France rend hommage à Aimé Césaire"; gallery here.

Césaire himself chose the epitaph that will appear on his tomb; the final three lines of his poem "Calendrier lagunaire":

La pression atmosphérique ou plutôt l'historique
agrandit démesurément mes maux
même si elle rend somptueux certains de mes mots

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Links, links, links

- In the Stabroek News, Al Creighton takes a look at the career of Sabga Award-winning David Dabydeen, and in the Trinidad Newsday Kevin Baldeosingh reports on Dabydeen's talk last Monday at the National Library in Port of Spain:

“Books are what we are. Long after we’ve forgotten who the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago is, we’ll remember Naipaul,” Dabydeen said. He also spoke about the friendly rivalry between the writers of the 1950s and 60s, although when he brought up Lamming, he paused and said, “Maybe I shouldn’t talk about this in public. It’s not being taped, is it?”

- In the New York Times Book Review, Paul Devlin reviews a new biography of Marcus Garvey, Negro with a Hat, by Colin Grant.

- Oops, I missed this one a little over a week ago: Ian Thomson's review, in the Independent, of Kei Miller's new novel:

The Same Earth, a humorous, bittersweet fiction, combines the fantastical realism of Márquez with the domestic comedy of Andrea Levy, to create an island saga richly brocaded in folklore and West Indian custom. Miller, himself a Jamaican, is a name to watch.

- And the Calabash International Literary Festival has released its 2008 schedule. No Junot Diaz, alas, but this year's authors include Lorna Goodison, Erna Brodber, Thomas Glave, Kei Miller, Margaret Cezair-Thompson (all Jamaican), the American poets Yusef Komunyakaa and Cornelius Eady, and, for the headline act, Derek Walcott. Your humble Antilles blogger will be in Treasure Beach the weekend of 23 to 25 May for Calabash 2008, and you can look out for not-quite-live reports here--with photos by Georgia Popplewell, just like last year.

- Speaking of Diaz, his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao has won another prize--the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, "the premier prize for books that grapple with race".

- And speaking of Walcott, the current New Yorker includes a new poem of his, In Italy:

Roads shouldered by enclosing walls with narrow
cobbled tracks for streets, those hill towns with their
stamp-sized squares and a sea pinned by the arrow
of a quivering horizon, with names that never wither
for centuries and shadows that are the dial of time....