June is National Caribbean Heritage Month and I have chosen to participate in the CaribAThon reading challenge which runs from June 11 through June 20. The only place I have so far traveled outside the mainland United States is the Caribbean. I have visited the Bahamas and Jamaica, and I fondly remember the warm, lazy breeze, vibrant colors, amazing food, rich spoken dialect and even the tantalizing smells. Everything seemed open and airy. Of course, this was from a tourist’s perspective. I sincerely hope to travel there with my husband and children one day – it’s unforgettable! Something else that was unique to me was seeing so many people, the majority even, of African descent. From the top government leaders to the faces on tv, the major players looked just like me. As an African American living in the Southeastern US, that was a very different experience for me.
CaribAThon is a reading challenge which focuses on reading authors from and stories based in 13 Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. For my TBR, I have chosen 3 books to read over the 10 day readathon: In the Name of Salomé by Julia Alvarez, Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat and Augustown by Kei Miller.
In the Name of Salomé is the story of a university language professor in the United States whose mother was a national poet in the Dominican Republic. The story examines how she comes to terms with her individual and cultural identity while describing a country turbulent with political unrest. Claire of the Sea Light describes the disappearance of a young girl in Haiti and and the secrets that are unearthed during the community’s search for her whereabouts. This book was written by the renowned Haitian author Edwidge Danticat who also wrote the widely popular short story collection Everything Inside. Augustown describes a family in 1980s era Jamaica as they deal with an incident which challenged and threatened their Rastafari beliefs. The book examines history, race and class among other themes.
I am looking forward to reading all of these selections and learning more about Caribbean culture and history.