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Diaspora writers take centre stage at T&T High Commission

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On Monday 14th October, the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission, London celebrated Trinidad and Tobago’s rich literary heritage with a book launch and reception featuring three highly acclaimed national writers. This year’s winner of the OCM BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature, Monique Roffey, was joined by Amanda Smyth and Roger Robinson as they read excerpts from their respective works and discussed various issues surrounding Diaspora writers.

The event was hosted by His Excellency Garvin Nicholas, who emphasised Trinidad and Tobago’s rich literary tradition.  “In spite of our small size, Trinidad and Tobago has given birth to an extraordinary wealth of talented writers,” Nicholas stated.  “This is certainly testament to the high calibre of our education system. Today, Trinidad and Tobago’s citizens enjoy universal education, from the primary straight up to the tertiary level”.

HE Garvin Nicholas addressing the audience with the writers on the panel seated l r Roger Robinson Monique Roffey Amanda Smyth

H.E. Garvin Nicholas addressing the audience with the writers on the panel seated (l-r: Roger Robinson, Monique Roffey, Amanda Smyth)

The reception commenced with readings from each author. Writer and poet Roger Robinson recited excerpts from his works Butterfly Hotel, Kidnap, The Irishman and Tobago Fruits, all of which explored questions of immigration, home and displacement. In Butterfly Hotel, Robinson painted a stark picture of the longing of the immigrant for the home country left behind.

Monique Roffey shared a reading from her new book Archipelago, echoing Robinson’s sentiment that the immigrant writer often feels a big split, never being sure of where their home is truly situated. In Archipelago, she explored issues of self discovery and discovery of country and culture from afar as her protagonist journeyed away from Trinidad to the Galapagos Islands. According to Roffey, one of her aims in writing the book was to inspire interest in the importance of maintaining the Caribbean’s unique ecological system.

Irish-Trinidadian writer Amanda Smyth read a chapter of her new book A Kind of Eden, a work which showcased the compelling beauty of Trinidad and Tobago and contrasted it with the protagonist’s need to escape life in England. For Smyth, it was important to highlight the striking scenery of the islands from the tourist’s perspective while revealing the reality of the people residing there.

The High Commissioner hailed the importance of these and other modern writers to the development of a strong national identity. “In this era of widespread Americanisation, I believe the work of Trinidad and Tobago’s modern writers are all the more significant,” he remarked. “Our young people especially need to see themselves represented in positions of value, and not just as ‘the other’. In this regard, our local writers have the power to craft a positive national identity, to allow us to appreciate each others’ truths, to celebrate our existence and the promise of our future”.



We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.


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