The Great Caribbean Novel ?


This morning I was listening to Out Loud from The New Yorker and the discussion surrounded the idea of the Great American Novel. This podcast featured a writer from the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik, and the popular writer, straddling both fiction and nonfiction, Elizabeth Gilbert.

The discussion came out of a review that Gopnik did for The Dream of the Great American Novel written by Professor in American Literature Emeritus at Harvard, Lawrence Buell.

The definition given in the podcast is that it is a book that gives a picture of an entire society.

The discussion got me thinking on whether there is a corresponding concept in Caribbean/ West Indian Literature. The Great Caribbean Novel might be a bit broad, but maybe a Great Barbadian Novel or a Great Trinidadian Novel…

For me two novels immediately come to mind:

In the Castle of My Skin by George Lamming

The Dragon Can’t Dance by Earl Lovelace

Just being a layperson who likes to read, it’s entirely possible that such a concept has been tossed around in academic circles and I’ve just never heard of it.

I’m not saying there should be a corresponding concept, just that it would interesting to know who would win the title, or at least come very very close.


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