Fri | Jan 19, 2018

The ‘fruition’ of Calabash

Published:Sunday | June 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Ada Limon
Chris Abani
Decca Aitkenhead
Chigozie Obioma
Diana McCaulay

The Calabash Literary Festival continues to programme a roster of writers that uphold the festival's guiding values - earthy, inspirational, daring and diverse.

The festival's theme this year is "fruu-ish-aan" (fruition) an affirmation of the steady movement towards an unfolding of a vision of something that began modestly, but full of hope and giddy ambition 15 years ago. Calabash is now a rooted institution in Jamaica that has borne many fruits over the years. That the festival continues to attract some of the greatest writers working today speaks to its place as a fixture in the literary world festival circuit.

Anchoring the festival, however, will also be a celebration of the work of Jamaican novelists. Erna Brodber, whose debut novel, Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home will be featured as a Caribbean classic with a reading of sections from the work by four well-known Jamaicans. In the past Calabash has drawn attention to the work of Caribbean writers in this way, and so Brodber joins writers, John Hearne, Roger Mais, Jean Rhys, Neville Dawes, V.S. Naipaul, Claude McKay, E.R. Braithwaite, and Orlando Patterson. Brodber is only the second woman to be so honoured.

With writers hailing from four continents, the festival remains as international as ever while showcasing the work of Caribbean writers in impressive numbers. The programme includes writers from Nigeria, Somalia, India, Macedonia, Great Britain, Ukraine, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, St Lucia and Jamaica.

Most striking this year is the presence of writers who have recently been creating a great deal of excitement in the international literary world, including Man Booker prize-winners, Marlon James and Eleanor Catton of New Zealand; multiple-award winning debut writers Chigozie Obioma of Nigeria and Ladan Osman of Somalia; as well as two winners of one of the most highly prized awards in the world, the Windham Campbell Award, Teju Cole and Geoff Dyer.

Alongside an impressive list of names from the literary world such as Chris Abani, Tishani Doshi, Paul Beatty, Ada Limon, Ilya Kaminsky, and Robert McCrum.

Never one to shrink from challenging subjects, Calabash 2016 will hear writers Decca Aitkenhead, Baz Dreisinger and Nina Revoyr dealing with the issues of bereavement, incarceration and moral dilemma head on as well as the hard-hitting poetry of Jessica Care Moore and Vladimir Lucien.

What with several major international awards, Jamaica has been gaining more attention on the literary map during the past two years since Calabash was last held, so it is fitting that this year's festival will feature a stellar group of Jamaican writers, including Marlon James, Kei Miller, Pamela Mordecai, Diana McCaulay and Nicole Dennis-Benn.