The Caribbean Novel since 1945Cultural Practice, Form, and the Nation-State

The Caribbean Novel since 1945Cultural Practice, Form, and the Nation-State

Michael Niblett

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781617032479

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

This book offers a comparative analysis of fiction from across the pan-Caribbean, exploring the relationship between literary form, cultural practice, and the nation-state. Engaging with the historical and political impact of capitalist imperialism, decolonization, class struggle, ethnic conflict, and gender relations, it considers the ways in which Caribbean authors have sought to rethink and re-narrate the traumatic past and often problematic “postcolonial” present of the region’s peoples. The book pays particular attention to the role cultural practices such as stickfighting and Carnival, as well as religious rituals and beliefs like Vodou and Myal, have played in efforts to reshape the novel form. In so doing, it provides an original perspective on the importance of these practices, with their emphasis on bodily movement, to the development of new philosophies of history. Beginning in the post-WWII period, when optimism surrounding the possibility of social and political change was at a peak, the book interrogates the trajectories of various national projects through to the present. It explores how the textual histories of common motifs in Caribbean writing have functioned to encode the fluctuating fortunes of different political dispensations. The scope of the analysis is varied and comprehensive, covering both critically acclaimed and lesser-known authors from the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone traditions. These include Jacques Roumain, Sam Selvon, Marie Chauvet, Luis Rafael Sánchez, Earl Lovelace, Patrick Chamoiseau, Erna Brodber, Wilson Harris, Shani Mootoo, Oonya Kempadoo, Ernest Moutoussamy, and Pedro Juan Gutiérrez.