Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 28, 2015

A Strange Mother – a harrowing tale of parental child abduction

maria reid

Maria L. Reid

Most of us know the importance of a mother’s love, and those of us who have had the good fortune to experience firsthand the bond of attachment that can develop between a mother and her child would appreciate how vital this is to a kid’s mental, emotional and social development.

Maria Reid is not so fortunate. Her thoughts of childhood have long been marred by memories of deep emotional pain and suffering. She was a victim of parental child abduction.

She has struggled for years to come to terms with what she says was a traumatic experience, the likes of which only those who have lived it could know what it feels like. Born in the United Kingdom, in the East London borough of Hackney, her parents, both Jamaicans, had emigrated to England in the early sixties. In Maria’s just-released autobiography A Strange Mother, she recounts her harrowing life story.

a strange motherSet partly in England and partly in Jamaica, A Strange Mother is the evocative and dramatic true-life story of Maria’s relationship with her mother whom she claims kidnapped her from her father after she had lost custody of her. In what Maria views as a deliberate act of revenge, her mother took her away to Jamaica and they lived there for over fifteen years.

“My mother made a decision that would change my life. I was never to see my dad or know him. She decided to emigrate to the Caribbean with me at the age of two, unannounced, with no finances or place to live. Her intention was to escape the law and take revenge on my father,” says Maria.

During that time, she says they lived “in severe hardship,” and she was “subjected to mental, psychological and physical abuse.”

Years later, Maria returned to the UK. Subsequently when she reunited with her mother, she said she made some shocking discoveries about “the dark world” that she had been subjected to as a child – a world characterised by “powerful and often evil spells” and a “supernatural power.”

“Writing the story was a challenge, especially chapters 2- 4,” says Maria. “There were events in my life that I had locked away as a child that suddenly reappeared. It was difficult, shocking, painful, disturbing memories – hatred. It came to a point where I wanted to close back the door which I had kept locked for so many years as the memories came flooding back.

“There were times I had to walk away from the computer. It was as if the more I dug deeper into my thoughts, the more it hurt. I feared I might not be able to come back to reality and be trapped, reliving the horrific torture and frustration. The pain just kept flooding back. Many events in my life that had gone unanswered became clearer and I was able to see the truth eventually.”

For Maria, writing the book has been a cathartic experience. “I am very pleased I wrote A Strange Mother. I now have closure for most of my dark past, just like a burial, although this unusual gift of seeing the past, future and present in my dreams goes on. There are some chapters in the book I have avoided or not revisited since I wrote the book because of the hurt.”

A Strange Mother puts parental child abduction back in the spotlight and highlights what the FBI, EUROPOL, the European Parliament and the US Department of Justice have all cited as a continuing international problem.

As noted by Wikipedia, a parent who abducts a child is usually ‘seeking to gain an advantage in expected or pending child custody proceedings or because that parent fears losing the child in those expected or pending child-custody proceedings.’ Sometimes they may flee with the child ‘to prevent an access visit or [out of] fear of domestic violence and abuse.’

According to statistics from the Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, 70 percent of the charity’s cases concern mothers taking the child.

Child victims are mostly between two and eleven years old; about 75% are six years old or younger and two-thirds of the cases involve one child, says the California Child Abduction Child Force.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international human rights treaty and legal mechanism dedicated to protecting children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by ‘encouraging the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence, and to organize or secure the effective rights of access to a child.’ The list of nations that are party to the Hague Abduction Convention shows that only three islands in the Caribbean are signatories to the Convention – Trinidad & Tobago, St Kitts & Nevis and the Dominican Republic.

Intent on sharing her life experience and ordeals with the world, Maria says she has the full backing of her family. “I have two children and my family is very supportive of me going public. We have had so many experiences which have affected us. I wanted to share with the world my story and experiences to help prevent an individual making the same mistakes or falling into the same trap.

“What I would like readers to take away from the book is your close friend, even your mother, could be your worst enemy. I have received feedback from people who say they find my story sad and painful but, most of all, they’re happy for me that I’ve gotten away from such a horrific experiences as a child, and have been able to rise above my past and become successful.”

A Strange Mother is available at  You can also order it from Troubador. Use the code ‘Mother’ to get a 10% discount.


Caribbean immigrants in the USA are gearing up for what has become one of their biggest and most important celebrations – Caribbean-American Heritage Month, celebrated annually in June.

In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution (H. Con. Res. 71), recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. On February 14, 2006, the resolution was passed in the Senate.

The White House has since issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

Dr. Claire Nelson, founder and president of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) is credited with having spearheaded the campaign to designate June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month. Her goal was to ensure that America is reminded that its greatness lies in its diversity, and to highlight the socioeconomic contributions of immigrants of Caribbean descent in shaping ‘the American dream.’

The Institute of Caribbean Studies has gone a step further by pushing to have the month of June dedicated to acknowledging the influence of Caribbean culture on an international scale. As part of this campaign, the ICS invites Caribbean writers and readers to take part in its annual Literary Festival in celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month. Editor of The Institute of Caribbean Studies, Shanza Lewis explains the aim of the festival and how you can be prt of the event:

As writers, we know how hard it is to get our work recognized, and as authors of work influenced by the Caribbean our niche is that much smaller. This Festival seeks to share and celebrate the work of upcoming Caribbean writers, as well as established ones. It is a platform for us to support each others work and to highlight the influence we have had on other cultures.

We are seeking submissions of literary fiction from anyone who wants to be a part of this celebration. Caribbean writers have a unique voice and ICS would like to highlight the great stories and poetry that reflect those roots. Our theme this year is Climate Change and the Caribbean.

Submissions are due by May 17. Five pieces will be chosen for showcasing on our website and in our literary magazine to be handed out at our book reading in June at the PORTICO Book Store in Washington, D.C. You may submit two poems or one short story to Shanza Lewis, at email address, The short story should be no more than 3,000 words, and the poem no more than 500 words each. The author should also include a short bio with their submission.
The pdf of our 2014 Literary Magazine can be downloaded here..

We are also seeking readers for our book reading in June. If you have a book written in the past two years based on the Caribbean or Caribbean characters please send us a description of the book, the sample to be read and a biography of the author to Traditional or self-published works are accepted. Deadline for submissions to the book reading are due by April 20.

We look forward to reading your work.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 5, 2015

2015 Wasafiri New Writing Prize Now Open!


Entries are now welcome for the 2015 Wasafiri New Writing Prize.

Wasafiri is one of Britain’s premier magazines for international contemporary writing. Originally launched in 1984 at the University of Kent, it is published quarterly and has established a distinctive reputation for promoting work by new and established voices across the globe.

The organizers of the competition are looking for submissions in three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing. The prize for each category is £300 and publication in Wasafiri Magazine.

=The competition is open to writers worldwide who have not published a complete book in their chosen category.

The deadline for submission is 5pm GMT on Friday 24 July 2015.

For more information, click here.


A beautiful ocean wave crashing to shore in Hawaii.Exploring Madness in Caribbean Literature

Registration is now open for the symposium “Altered States: Configuring Madness in Caribbean Literature,” to be held in Liège, Belgium, on April 23-24, 2015.

Among the confirmed keynote speakers are Alison Donnell and the award-winning Caribbean writers Alecia McKenzie, Kei Miller and Caryl Phillips. Scholars from the Caribbean include Evelyn O’Callaghan, professor at the University of the West Indies, Barbados.

The symposium is hosted by CEREP (Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales / Centre for Teaching and Research in Postcolonial Studies). According to the organisers, the symposium’s main starting point will be the “ubiquitous representation of various forms of mental illness, breakdown and psychopathology in Caribbean literature,” and the fact that this topic has been relatively neglected in criticism.

For the full program of the event, see:

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | June 29, 2014

Call for Submissions: The Caribbean Writer – Volume 29


The Caribbean Writer, an international literary journal with a Caribbean focus, has announced a submissions call for its 29th edition. Issues unique to the Caribbean should be central to the work or it should reflect a Caribbean heritage, experience and perspective

Besides the usual poetry, short fiction and essays, Volume 29 will highlight contradictions and ambiguities in the Caribbean space. Interviews, personal narratives and one-act plays highlighting this theme are also welcome.

Writers are encouraged to submit poems (5 maximum), short stories and personal essays on general topics and also on themes pertaining to Caribbean musicians and visual artists.

One-act plays will also be accepted. Only previously unpublished work will be considered. (If self-published, give details.) Include brief biographical information and list all contact information plus the title of the manuscript on a separate page. Only the title should appear on the manuscript.

All submissions are eligible for the following prizes:
• The Daily News Prize for best poetry ($300)
• The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for best short fiction ($400)
• The David Hough Literary Prize to a Caribbean author ($500)
• The Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize to a Virgin Islands author ($200)
• The Charlotte & Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for first-time publication ($250)
• The Cecile deJongh Literary Prize to an author whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean ($500).

Email submissions to as attached Word or RTF files OR submit via the “Submissions” page at Submissions may also be mailed to: The Caribbean Writer, University of the Virgin Islands, RR 1, Box 10,000, Kingshill St. Croix, VI 00850-9781. Include SASE for response. Submission deadline is December 30, 2014.

For more information, visit or email


Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | April 17, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez is Dead


Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. 

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia. Read more in the New York Times

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | April 4, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez hospitalised in Mexico City

gabrial garcia_marquez

Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez was hospitalised on Thursday in Mexico City.

García Márquez, whose career spans journalism to the fantastical novels that inspired the genre of magical realism, lives in Mexico City. The 87-year-old Nobel laureate entered the hospital Monday suffering from the infection and from dehydration, Mexico’s Secretary of Health said in a written statement.

“The patient has responded to treatment. Once he’s completed his course of antibiotics his discharge from the hospital will be evaluated,” the statement said. Read more in the Guardian.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 21, 2014

Write an article on ‘Generation-Y’ and get a cash prize of $200

readwave 002

Readwave, the online platform that helps writers promote and share their stories and articles and gain exposure, is inviting bloggers and writers from all over the world to share their views on the topic of ‘Generation Y’ for an opportunity to win a cash prize of US$200.

Generation-Y is one of the hot topics being debated all over the world as more and more people ponder what the future holds for this cohort, also known as the Millennials, or the YOLO Generation.

The Pew Research Centre, an American think tank, lists the Millennial birth range as those born after 1980. It’s the generation dubbed by some as the “Why-can’t-I-have-it-now” generation; a generation that is glued to social media and into selfies, drunken snapchats, instagramming, and for whom picking up a smartphone or going on the internet has become second nature.

Every generation has its own set of values, aspirations and challenges, and that’s what makes the times we’re living in so exciting, notwithstanding all the uncertainties and challenges we face.

Readwave has launched this new initiative in a bid to stimulate debate and generate new insights on the topic. It invites writers and bloggers to write an article expressing your thoughts on Generation-Y and submit it to the website for an opportunity to win a cash prize of $200.

Rob Tucker, Managing Editor at, explains:

Robert Tucker

“We’re calling all bloggers, writers, thinkers, part-time philosophers and aspiring journalists to write an 800-word article on the theme of Generation-Y. Enter it into our Gen-Y competition on ReadWave and the article that receives the most ‘likes’ will win a cash prize of $200 (or equivalent value in your local currency).

“We accept entrants from all over the world. Articles that are over 800 words will not be considered. The deadline for submissions is 14th April. For more information, visit

For more information about Readwave, check out the article Discover a New World of Stories at ReadWave on Caribbean Book Blog.

Also, check out Readwave on Facebook.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 17, 2014

6 Finalists in Running for Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

Dianne Brown

Dianne Brown

Joanne C Hillhouse

Joanne C Hillhouse

Joanne Skerrit

Joanne Skerrit

A-dZiko Gegele

A-dZiko Gegele

The finalists for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature have been announced.

The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 55 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. It is the result of a close collaboration with CODE’s local partners in the Caribbean, the Bocas Lit Fest and CaribLit.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne, Jamaica (published by Carlong)
  • All Over Again by A-dZiko Gegele, Jamaica (published by Blouse & Skirt Books)
  • Barrel Girl by Glynis Guevara , Trinidad and Tobago (manuscript to be published)
  • Musical Youth by Joanne Hillhouse, Antigua and Barbuda (manuscript to be published)
  • Abraham’s Treasure by Joanne Skerrett, Dominica (published by Papillotte Press)
  • Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith Dennis, Jamaica (published by LMH Publishing) 

The finalists were selected by a jury administered by The Bocas Lit Fest and made up of writers, literacy experts and academics from the Caribbean and Canada.

“In the Caribbean, as in much of the world, demand for relevant, entertaining books that speak to young people in their own language is constantly growing,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. “With the Award, we’re hoping to help address this demand by supporting the development of new titles that reflect the lives of their readers, while providing opportunities for promising writers to emerge and regional publishers to prosper. Our ultimate goal is for young people across the Caribbean to have access to good books they will enjoy so they can develop the love of reading and become lifelong learners.”

The three winners of the first edition of this annual Award will be announced on April 25th, 2014 at a Gala to be held as part of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. A First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD will be awarded to the authors of the winning titles. In addition, publishers of the winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies, ensuring that the books get into the hands of young people through schools, libraries and community organizations across the Caribbean. Winning publishers also commit to actively market an additional minimum of 1,200 copies of each winning title throughout the region.

Marina Salandy-Brown, founder of The Bocas Lit Fest says, “We are delighted to be working with CODE and William Burt in administering this exceptional prize that not only supports writers of an underserved genre in the Caribbean – young adult literature – but publishers too, and which addresses headlong the critical issue of marketing and distribution in our region.”

CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative and is also currently established in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Canada.

For further details on the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, go to   

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | February 16, 2014

Chasing a Miracle – new book tackles the ‘unexplainable’

Chasing a MiracleThere is an extraordinary event that takes place every year in Italy. Many devoted Catholics travel to the Doumo (cathedral) of Naples to witness the “miracle of the blood” – the liquefaction of what is believed to be a sample of the blood of St. Januarius kept in a sealed glass ampule.

St. Januarius, or San Gennaro, was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian around 305 CE. A former Bishop of Naples, he is believed to have died while visiting Christians imprisoned in Rome.

Three times every year in September, the faithful gather on the streets of Naples in their thousands and make their way to the city’s cathedral to pray for a miracle; that the the 5th century martyr’s blood would liquefy right before their eyes. It is believed that after his death, Bishop Januarius’ blood was preserved and, over centuries, it solidified into solid, stone-like particles. According to eye witness accounts since the 14th century, the particles change into liquefied blood on special holy days and it is considered to be a sign of blessing and protection for the faithful.

As part of a documentary on miracles that he was producing for the BBC, British journalist Mark Dowd attended a recent celebration of the feast of Saint Januarius in Naples where the miracle reportedly reoccurred.

If you think that belief in miracles is a Catholic preserve, think again. A recent report commissioned by the television production company CTVC and the religious think-tank Theos in the UK revealed that among 21st century Britons, one in six people are convinced that they or someone they know personally has experienced a miracle.

A new survey by the US market research firm, Harris Poll found that 72 percent of Americans believe in miracles. Other studies have shown that over the past two decades the number of Americans who believe in religious miracles increased – despite the fact that more people appear to be turning their backs on organized religion.

Against this backdrop author, Eliot Hartford Bailey sets out to tackle what many describe as the supernatural, in his new mystery-thriller novel, Chasing a Miracle.  He makes sure to distinguish miracles from hocus-pocus or even serendipity. The book is the first in a trilogy of the same name.

Eliot Bailey

Eliot Bailey

In Chasing A Miracle Chief Investigator and protagonist Dr. Adam Bell knows all too well the difference between miracles and sleight–of-hand, often dubbed as magic. After all, ‘miracles’ are his business; he is charged with investigating them at the Bureau of Scientific Skepticism (B.O.S.S).  Under the Bureau’s secret agenda, his job is to prove that incidents deemed to be miracles can be explained scientifically and objectively.  However, in the process he discovers that science is only able to rationalise some of those occurrences and others are indeed unexplainable. His intellectual curiosity pushes him to look more deeply into the nature of miracles.

In a tragic and ironic twist, Dr. Adam Bell’s pregnant wife is infected with a fatal virus and it seems the only thing that can save her is a miracle. In his desperation to save his wife and unborn child, Dr. Bell presses on with his scientific investigations, which result in the astounding breakthrough discovery of of an ancient code that potentially holds the clue to miracles. When caught trying to conceal the code, Bell’s boss issues a spine-chilling ultimatum. Bell must follow the universe’s mysterious path of seemingly random opportunities and apply the code to engineer a miracle.

A Saint Lucian national with British roots (his father is from the UK), Eliot Bailey is the co-owner and managing director of LucianStyle, one of Saint Lucia’s leading tour companies. He has crossed paths with many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey whom he met during her visit to the island some years ago. She offered him some words of wisdom. Bailey said she was quite an inspiration to him.

Bailey has had his own brush with the unexplainable. During the writing of his book, a woman whom he had never met before visited his office and had surprising knowledge of his name and face and she claimed to have been sent to him by the Holy Ghost with a message from God himself. This happened in the presence of his staff. To this day he has no idea who she is or where she came from.

“An unfathomable experience, surely not one to be taken lightly,” says Bailey. “It was one which only further fuelled my fire in the creation of what I believe you will discover is a stimulating trilogy.”

Chasing a Miracle is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Click  here to check out Bailey’s website.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | February 4, 2014

Fashion Africa: new book showcases the Glory of African Fashion

fashio africa cover

When the Black British children’s writer, Malorie Blackman was appointed Britain’s Children’s Laureate in June 2013, she wasted no time drawing public attention to a problem in book publishing in the UK that has long been a source of anguish to many of the country’s writers; a lack of ethnic and cultural diversity in children’s books. Blackman, best known for her Noughts and Crosses series for teenagers, told the Guardian as a child she never came across black writers or black characters in the books she read.

“I still remember feeling I was totally invisible in the world of literature,” said Blackman. Many African, Caribbean and other Ethnic Minority writers of adult fiction and non-fiction in the UK have been voicing the same concern for decades.

Across the pond, in America, author, Roxanne Gay caused a stir after she did an informal survey which revealed that 90% of the books reviewed in the New York Times are written by white authors. Discussing the survey findings in her article Where Things Stand, in the Rumpus, she lamented: “These days, it is difficult for any writer to get a book published. We’re all clawing. However, if you are a writer of colour, not only do you face a steeper climb getting your book published, you face an even more arduous journey if you want that book to receive critical attention. It shouldn’t be this way.”

Jacaranda Books founder, Valerie Brandes

Jacaranda Books founder, Valerie Brandes

Valerie Brandes agrees. A proud Londoner of Caribbean heritage, she’s the founder and publisher of Jacaranda Books, a new independent trade publisher of fiction, non-fiction and illustrated books, based in London.

Jacaranda Books aims to promote diversity in the publishing industry by producing ethnically, culturally and socially diverse books, with a particular interest in Africa, the Caribbean and the Diaspora.

Brandes is a keen supporter and promoter of diversity in publishing, having worked closely with organisations such as Equality In Publishing (EQUIP) which was created to address the concerns of groups traditionally underrepresented within all areas of the UK publishing industry.

This year promises to be an exciting one for Jacaranda Books. It is scheduled to publish six titles from a diverse set of authors, including fashion professional Jacqueline Shaw, spoken-word poet and writer Anthony Anaxagorou, Caine Prize shortlist nominee, Pede Hollist of Sierra Leone, and Jamaica-born writer, activist and academic professor, Patrick Wilmot.

Jacaranda Books’ first title, Fashion Africa is due for release on February 27. The author, Jacqueline Shaw is another Londoner with Caribbean roots. In this groundbreaking book, which was originally self-published, she explores the fashion renaissance currently going on in Africa, from ready-to-wear to haute couture, and street clothes to luxury wear. The book is the first of its kind to bring together designers, design companies and ethical manufacturers among others, all with an African connection.

Jacqueline Shaw

Jacqueline Shaw

It showcases over 40 of Africa’s best and most talented fashion designers with over 200 stunning photographs and revealing interviews. The designers are among an emerging cadre of couturiers who are helping to transform the fashion industry in Africa and the Diaspora with their sensational ranges. In the process they are infusing the runways with a new Afrocentric brand of glamour rivalling that of Europe and North America’s fashion houses. Their designs have been specifically sourced from Africa and include sustainable cottons and silks. Their techniques (traditional weaving or batik) also display a uniquely African influence.

Fashion Africa is the product of Shaw’s extensive travelling and research throughout the continent, chronicling the fashion and textile industry and social enterprises from Ghana and Nigeria to Southern Africa.

The publication heralds the emergence of two outstanding female professionals, both with their hearts set on pushing the door open wider to multicultural and multiethnic talent.

Shaw is absolutely thrilled to be published by Jacaranda Books. She said, “My experience with Jacaranda Books has been quite positive. To have a publisher see my self-published book at an event and decide on the spot that they wanted to publish it and give it the promotion it deserved humbled me. The team at Jacaranda has not only believed in the book but believed in me too and so I’m glad to have the opportunity to work with them.

“Now that Fashion Africa is published, I am quite excited and often can’t believe that this project of mine has fully taken the reins and is riding its course. It is a great time to be in, and I look forward to seeing where it goes. and to future book projects!”

Jacqueline Shaw is the creator of the blog Africa Fashion Guide. It was rated by The Guardian as one of the top ten African fashion blogs. . She’s a professional fashion designer with a background working and designing for fashion companies PUMA, Russell Athletic, Ocean Pacific, Fila, Chilli Pepper in London to name a few, and Babylon Princesse (Talent in Shanghai) in China.

Shaw is also the owner of ethical designer wedding dress company Latibeau Ltd. She holds a Ba (Hons) degree in Fashion from the Surrey Institute of Art and Design and a Masters Degree in Ethical Fashion. She has worked with the Ethical Fashion Forum representing African businesses at their Source Expo events and has written for the West Africa Trade Hub/USAid website and Dazed and Confused magazine whilst on placement with them during her BA (Hons) degree.

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