As we collated the books named during our 100 Caribbean Books that Made Us campaign on social media, we noticed the same book titles popped up quite often. Although this list isn’t and will not become a competition, we kept tabs on each title to see which were named most often and to see what trends would emerge.
The results may not surprise you – a generation who came of age on social media named the Caribbean classics they grew up with, studied at school, and have loved ever since: Earl Lovelace’s novels The Dragon Can’t Dance and The Schoolmaster, and Michael Anthony’s Green Days by the River. The authors of the most-mentioned define excellence in literature, not just in the Caribbean and its diaspora, but globally – Walcott, Selvon, Kincaid.
The book most mentioned by followers throughout the campaign? V.S. Naipaul’s Miguel Street. First published in 1959, this novel and its characters have left its mark on our readers, holding pride of place on Caribbean bookshelves even today. The comments on social media reflect the magnetising pull of this book, and its resonance on our lives:
“This was a book on the curriculum when I was at secondary school in Trinidad and I thought that it in no way reflected my life, but I realised that so many of the characters were familiar and so too their problems. Not just familiar but all around me.” – Nicole Roberts on Miguel Street
But even though the books most mentioned are overwhelmingly from the Caribbean’s literary past, we’re pleased to see some of our newer writers appear on the list of the Most Mentioned books that “made us”. Two of Edwidge Danticat’s novels from the nineties appear on this “Most Mentioned” list, along with Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women (2009) and A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014). Just as this latter title stirred up the literary world (winning the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Man Booker Prize), so too has it stirred up this list of formative classics.
Have a look at these twenty-four most mentioned titles of our campaign and tell us what you think. When you think of the books that have “made” you, are they recent or past publications? For more details on each of the most mentioned books go to The 100 Caribbean Books That Made Us page. And while you’re there, don’t forget to fill in our comment box to tell us what you think about the list!