Caribbean book filter
December 19, 2008 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend books about the Caribbean? I'm looking for fiction or non-fiction, though preferably not pirates or tourist tales.

I'm familiar with Don't Stop the Carnival and am pretty sure it will be arriving next week via the chimney, but am looking for more to get me through the next 3 months of snow and ice. Regional or island specific books are OK.
posted by the christopher hundreds to Media & Arts (22 answers total)
Michener's Caribbean. Especially if you're interested in a novel that explores the region from pretty much the Big Bang through modern times.
posted by padraigin at 4:57 PM on December 19, 2008

I just finished The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Bio of V. S. Naipaul... *kind of* about the Caribbean... definitely a good read
posted by jcruelty at 5:30 PM on December 19, 2008

darn, i had one on the tip of my tongue for a while but when i figured it out.. i doubt itd be helpful. (geared towards younger readers, caribbean was the setting moreso than focus)
the cay, and timothy of the cay, by theodore taylor.

meh, at least i got past that "oh, wait, what was that one called...?" feeling
posted by nzydarkxj at 5:40 PM on December 19, 2008

Read something by Derek Walcott.
posted by brookeb at 5:47 PM on December 19, 2008

Best answer: A House for Mr. Biswas, by V.S. Naipaul.
1491 touches briefly on the native cultures of the Caribbean. Junot Diaz's Drown has stories based in and influenced by the Dominican Republic. There's Wide Sargasso Sea, set in Jamaica and Jamaican-born Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott's epic poem, Omeros, too.

Does The Mosquito Coast count?
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 5:48 PM on December 19, 2008

Jamaica Kincaid & Edwidge Dandicat both write fiction & nonfiction about the region. CLR James was a fascinating philosopher/social theorist who wrote about the Caribbean and other topics.
posted by judith at 5:52 PM on December 19, 2008

Although not about the Caribbean (Puerto Rico) per se, The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson is a great read.
posted by boba at 5:52 PM on December 19, 2008

The Comedians, Haiti, 1966, replete w/ Papa Doc, voodoo, the Tonton Mocoutes, author Graham Greene.
posted by mumstheword at 7:38 PM on December 19, 2008

Here I go again. The Comedians
posted by mumstheword at 7:41 PM on December 19, 2008

Our Man in Havana, by Graham Greene.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:48 PM on December 19, 2008

Russell Banks' Rule of the Bone or Book of Jamaica. I'm not sure if you would consider them tourist tales, but no pirates!
posted by sad_otter at 9:05 PM on December 19, 2008

Nthing Omeros. It's one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, up there with Lolita et al.
posted by kprincehouse at 9:16 PM on December 19, 2008

I like "Annie John," and "Wide Sargasso Sea" (already mentioned) is great, too.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:44 PM on December 19, 2008

The Queen of Whale Cay: nonfiction, biography of a rich eccentric lesbian cross-dresser who had her own Caribbean island

Also, the protagonists of Anansi Boys by Neal Gaiman are Afro-Caribbean, and the climactic bit is set in the Caribbean.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:39 PM on December 19, 2008

C.L.R. James Beyond a Boundary - memoir from the great cricket writer and Marxist. Heartily agree with the Walcott recommendation above too.
posted by Abiezer at 12:18 AM on December 20, 2008

Seconding the Michener book. Also: Don't Stop The Carnival by Herman Wouk. I haven't read it yet, but have heard great things about it.
posted by jquinby at 6:57 AM on December 20, 2008

If you are interested in really immersing yourself, Far Tortuga is one of my favorite reads for the Caribbean. It is not a fast read as it has an unusual style, and is mostly in dialect, but is well worth it, IMHO.
posted by masher at 7:15 AM on December 20, 2008

I came in to also recommend Wide Sargasso Sea.
posted by apostrophe at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2008

Michener is agood overview / introduction. The Traveller's Tree: A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands by Patrick Leigh Fermor is an interesting narrrative from the 1940's. Dominican historian/writer/artist Lennox Honeychurch has written a very good ,easy to read illustrated history trilogy The Caribbean People, intended as school text books; preview of book 1 .
posted by adamvasco at 10:20 AM on December 20, 2008

and this by Pere Labat.
posted by adamvasco at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, the answers keep coming. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:13 PM on December 20, 2008

Not Caribbean, but you can't go wrong with An Island to Oneself. Available in pdf and html all over the net.
posted by nenequesadilla at 7:24 PM on December 20, 2008

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