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Wednesday 9 April 2008

R.I.P. E.A. Markham, 1 October, 1939-23 March, 2008

I am shocked and saddened this morning to hear of the death of the Montserrat-born writer E.A. "Archie" Markham, via an email circulated by his publishers, Peepal Tree Press. Here is the text of that announcement:

"We have just received the sudden and shocking news of the death of E.A. (Archie) Markham in Paris on 23rd March, Easter day.

"Archie had apparently been taken to or gone to a Paris hospital where he died, it seems, of a heart attack. It was not until Monday 6th of April that news of his death was discovered by his family. As a hale 69 year old who was always on the move, no-one was too alarmed not to have heard from him for a week or two.

"As publishers of Archie's novel Marking Time, his retrospective collection of stories Taking the Drawing Room Through Customs, and just having sent his memoir, Against the Grain, due for publication later this month, to the printers, Archie has long been a part of our life, and over the last few months a regular presence either in the office or on the phone. It was always both an education and a joy to work with him. He was generous (we still have a bottle of good St Emilion awaiting an occasion), particular (he was still emailing small alterations -- which always improved the text -- right up to the last time we heard from him just before Easter) and immense fun when he was in the office.

"We know that there was so much more that Archie planned to write. In every way we feel deprived. There is so much more we want to say, but that needs more thought. In the meantime we send our deepest regrets to Archie's family and know that there will be many of our friends who will share our huge shock and sense of loss."

Archie Markham was also a member of the CRB's editorial board, in which role he was a source of strong (if mostly silent) moral support for the magazine. I deeply regret never having the chance to meet him, to match the wry, generous voice of his poems, fiction, and correspondence to the wryly generous man.

Monday 7 April 2008

Pulitzer for Diaz

The 2008 Pulitzer Prizes have just been announced--and the fiction prize (possibly the most prestigious in American letters) has gone to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz--one of the CRB's books of the year for 2007, reviewed in our current issue by Marlon James.

Addendum: thanks to Antilles reader Matthew Hunte for pointing me to this recent interview with Diaz in Newsweek. Nice quote:

The Caribbean generally and the island of Hispaniola specifically is the linchpin, the pivot point where the old world swung into the new world. If you want the transformation point, if you want the ground zero where the Old World died and the New World began, it's there. I mean, nothing is more quintessentially American—in the entire span of that description—than the Caribbean and more specifically the Dominican Republic. If you want to be incredibly grandiose, the entire world, we're all the children of what happened in the Caribbean, whether we know it or not. I mean, the extermination of indigenous people, the conquest of the New World, slavery and in some ways the rise of this form of capitalism that we all live under. I mean really the modern world was given rise by what began in the Caribbean.