What is the first thing you wrote?
I believe it was a short ‘story’, sort of, when I was 5 years old or so.
Who do you write for?
If I’m writing fiction, I don’t write ‘for’ anyone: the characters are more important than anyone, I think, myself included. If I’m writing nonfiction, the work’s content may be informed by the event or group for which it was commissioned, unless it’s creative nonfiction on a topic of political/personal interest.
What was the first Caribbean book you read?
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez).
How many Caribbean writers from the 1940s and 50s could you name?
Andrew Salkey, Victor Stafford Reid (!!), Virgilio Piñera (Cuba), José Lezama Lima (Cuba), Nicolás Guillén (Cuba), Aimé Césaire (Martinique), Frank Collymore, John Hearne…
How many women?
Ida Faubert (Haiti), Una Marson, Jean Rhys, Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Lydia Cabrera (Cuba), Marie Chauvet (Haiti), Joyce Gladwell (Jamaica).
Which writer do you wish you knew more about?
Would love to know more about (a) Dutch Caribbean writers, and (b) all the Caribbean writers whose names are so unknown that they’re just not visible today.
What is the earliest piece of Caribbean writing you have read?
I think it would be something from university (some writers’ essays and/or poems here and there) – but also the work of José Martí would be the earliest (19th century) Caribbean writing I’ve read.
Does the Caribbean’s literary past matter to you?
Yes, very much: the literary past of the entire Caribbean, not only the Anglophone Caribbean.
Who are our most important writers today?
I don’t think this is a useful question for a creative writer to consider (at least not for me). What’s more crucial for me to think about is: How can I do my best work yet?
What are you reading now?
Rebel Hearts: Journeys within the IRA’s Soul (Kevin Toolis). About to begin the Haitian Pierre Clitandre’s novel, Cathedral of the August Heat!