Curating Caribbean Heritage: A List of Must-Read Books

This is how I honor and celebrate the diversity and richness of the islands and their cultural diasporas, reflecting on and orienting my thinking around the singular and collective range of experiences and perspectives that define us here, there and everywhere:

  1. “Hungry Ghosts” by Kevin Jared Hosein
    Set in 1940s Trinidad, this is the immersive story of two families intertwined by a chilling mystery.
  2. “River Sing Me Home” by Eleanor Shearer
    This historical novel follows a mother’s journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery.
  3. “The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts” by Soraya Palmer – A coming-of-age story, set in Brooklyn, about two Jamaican-Trinidadian sisters dealing with their mother’s illness and family secrets.
  4. “A Woman of Endurance” by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
    This novel has garnered attention for its exploration of African heritage and resilience in Puerto Rican culture.
  5. “The God of Good Looks” by Breanne Mc Ivor – This story revolves around a young Trinidadian woman finding her voice and reclaiming her name​.
  6. “Queen of Exiles” by Vanessa Riley – Based on the life of Haiti’s Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid and her journey from Haiti to establishing a royal court in Italy​.
  7. “Family Lore” by Elizabeth Acevedo
    This book delves into the lives of a Dominican-American family, narrated through the voices of its women as they prepare for a life-changing gathering​.
  8. “How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House” by Cherie Jones
    Set in Barbados, this debut novel examines themes of class, violence, and gender dynamics​.
  9. “Pleasantview” by Celeste Mohammed
    A collection of interconnected short stories set in a fictional Trinidadian village, exploring the complexities of the Caribbean dream​
  10. “What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez” by Claire Jiménez
    This novel explores the story of a young girl who disappears and reappears on reality TV, receiving critical acclaim for its engaging narrative and themes.
  11. “Things I Have Withheld” by Kei Miller – This novel challenges readers to reflect on prejudice and discrimination through the lens of class, gender, race, and queerness​ .
  12. “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson
    This story centers on the inheritance of a traditional Caribbean black cake, unraveling family secrets and history​.
  13. “Ordinary Girls” by Jaquira Díaz
    A memoir that chronicles Díaz’s challenging childhood in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, touching on themes of identity, sexuality, and resilience.
  14. Juliet Takes a Breath” by Gabby Rivera
    This acclaimed novel is a powerful exploration of self-discovery and empowerment.
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