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Wednesday, 30 May 2007


New York magazine asked 61 book critics to name their "favourite underrated book of the past ten years", and the full list, with brief annotations, is published in their current issue. I scrolled through, wondering if any Caribbean books would make an appearance--and there, nominated by Jean Stein, was Patrick Chamoiseau's Texaco.

I'm wondering, dear readers, what a "best underrated" list restricted to Caribbean books would look like. Off the top of my head, my choice would probably be Charlotte Williams's memoir Sugar and Slate, a nuanced story of the author's struggle to come to terms with her divided heritage--Welsh and Guyanese--and to understand the meanings and possibilities of "home". Identity, dividedness, and exile are classic themes in Caribbean literature, but Williams tackles them from what feels like a fresh perspective; and then there is the particular interest of her take on her father, the celebrated Guyanese artist and writer Denis Williams. (I wrote a very short review of Sugar and Slate some years ago.)

What would your "best underrated" Caribbean books of the last decade be, dear readers? Let us know in the comments below.


Marlon James said...


Underated Caribbean books? That will take some deep thinking. Overrated on the other hand, don't get me started.

Jonathan said...

I'm almost loath to go to bat for the Saddhu of Wiltshire--goodness knows he doesn't need the likes of me (or anyone else really) to do it--but I must say I thought VS Naipaul's Half A Life was unfairly disparaged ("half a novel" etc). I found it moving and touching and funny--its dry, very ironic humour made even more apparent when Naipaul read an excerpt on his recent visit to Trinidad. When I read Half A Life it almost seemed as if Naipaul were saying, "This could have been my life, had I not won the scholarship to Oxford."

I enjoyed Magic Seeds too--at least, the first two-thirds of it.