What We’re Into: Caribbean Women Writers

With Women’s History Month coming to an end, now is the perfect time to do some last minute reading of literature written by women. In 1987, the United States Congress passed into public law a set of resolutions which officially set March as “Women’s History Month.” Now, March is recognized in the United States and the Caribbean as a time to honor the remarkable contributions and achievements which extraordinary women have made over the course of history. For the last three months, Dr. Nancy Comorau and her Caribbean Women Writers course have been diving deep into the history of colonialism within the Caribbean, and what talented female authors of color have done to address and even overcome its legacies. Whether you want to feel empowered or challenged, broaden your knowledge of women’s history and literature or just want a good read, this list of Caribbean books has the perfect story for you.


The Fat Black Woman’s Poems by Grace Nichols

Written to highlight the joys and challenges surrounding femininity, race and body image, The Fat Black Woman’s Poems is a fun, spunky collection of poems that will leave you feeling empowered. Told through the perspective of a bold and vivacious “fat black woman”, Nichols lavishes in her identity as a larger-bodied woman of color, living as an immigrant in London. She writes of the pleasures and sadness of memory of her home country, noting her yearning desire for the liveliness of Caribbean culture. In other sequences her works pose awkward questions directed towards politicians, and royal and governmental figures about white privilege and beauty standards and aim to dismantle social and racial stereotypes concerning the place which people of color, women, and larger bodied women have within European society. Through clever lyric and rhyme, The Fat Black Woman’s Poems is a great set to add to your to-read list.


The Pagoda by Patricia Powell

Though published in 1998, The Pagoda delves deep into issues concerning racial, societal prejudice against immigrants that are still prevalent within today’s society. Powell’s historical fiction novel follows the simple life of a content Chinese immigrant, Mr. Lowe in late-19th century Jamaica. As far as the other villagers know, has all he’s ever wanted: a stable career as a shopkeeper, a beautiful wife whose social status earned her fortune. However, the painful secrets of his past begin to haunt every aspect of his new life: the tale of his exile and familial and sexual abuse, an unwanted pregnancy, and an arrangement of a second identity to avoid scandal. When his shop unexpectedly catches fire and burns down, Lowe is forced to face his past and embrace his culture. Through carefully crafted language and plot, Powell heightens themes of sexuality, abuse, racial and societal prejudice and poses difficult questions concerning parenthood, friendship and culture; a fantastic, eye-opening read for this March!

The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones is a fantastic historical novel which follows the story of Amabelle Desir, a young, orphaned Haitian woman who built her life in the Dominican Republic as a handmaid and companion to the wife of a wealthy Dominican colonel. She and her lover, Sebastien, plan to marry, yet their plans are thwarted and the world collapses when a wave of genocidal violence hits, driven by Dominican military leader and dictator Rafael Trujillo, leading to the slaughter of the Haitian working class. An eye-opening, gut-wrenching novel, Danticat fully embraces themes of nationalism, grief and trauma and doesn’t shy away from asking questions concerning the roles of women and mothers in society. Though intense, The Farming of Bones is a worthwhile read!

One Reply to “What We’re Into: Caribbean Women Writers”

  1. Jacob Kenerson

    Sounds like some really interesting books! Especially The Farming of Bones, while it sounds really heavy it sounds like quite the impactful read, I’ll have to check it out sometime 👀


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