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Introduction by Marlon James and Sia Figuel So Many Islands breaks out bold new writing from the distant shores of countries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific oceans. Here you will find poems about revolution and protest. You will be transported to Marakei, ‘the women’s island’, and join the battle to save a beached whale. Alongside family politics, So Introduction by Marlon James and Sia Figuel So Many Islands breaks out bold new writing from the distant shores of countries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific oceans. Here you will find poems about revolution and protest. You will be transported to Marakei, ‘the women’s island’, and join the battle to save a beached whale. Alongside family politics, So Many Islands tackles nuclear testing and climate change – global issues that are close to the heart of these precariously poised communities. Giving voice to their challenges and triumphs, these writers create a vibrant portrait of what it is like to live and love on the small islands they call home. Readers everywhere will find universal connections with their words and worlds. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Cyprus, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Malta, Mauritius, Niue, Rotuma (Fiji), Samoa, Singapore, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago ABOUT THE EDITOR(S) Nicholas Laughlin (Trinidad & Tobago) is the editor of the Caribbean Review of Books and Caribbean Beat and programme director of the Bocas Lit Fest, an annual literary festival held in Trinidad. His poetry, essays and reviews have been widely published. His debut collection of poems, The Strange Years of My Life was published in 2015 by Peepal Tree Press. He lives and works in Trinidad & Tobago.


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Introduction by Marlon James and Sia Figuel So Many Islands breaks out bold new writing from the distant shores of countries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific oceans. Here you will find poems about revolution and protest. You will be transported to Marakei, ‘the women’s island’, and join the battle to save a beached whale. Alongside family politics, So Introduction by Marlon James and Sia Figuel So Many Islands breaks out bold new writing from the distant shores of countries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific oceans. Here you will find poems about revolution and protest. You will be transported to Marakei, ‘the women’s island’, and join the battle to save a beached whale. Alongside family politics, So Many Islands tackles nuclear testing and climate change – global issues that are close to the heart of these precariously poised communities. Giving voice to their challenges and triumphs, these writers create a vibrant portrait of what it is like to live and love on the small islands they call home. Readers everywhere will find universal connections with their words and worlds. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Cyprus, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Malta, Mauritius, Niue, Rotuma (Fiji), Samoa, Singapore, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago ABOUT THE EDITOR(S) Nicholas Laughlin (Trinidad & Tobago) is the editor of the Caribbean Review of Books and Caribbean Beat and programme director of the Bocas Lit Fest, an annual literary festival held in Trinidad. His poetry, essays and reviews have been widely published. His debut collection of poems, The Strange Years of My Life was published in 2015 by Peepal Tree Press. He lives and works in Trinidad & Tobago.

30 review for So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific

  1. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    So Many Islands Is a collection of short stories, poems, essays from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. When I heard about this collection of stories, I instantly gravitated to the idea of different island people coming together to speak their truth in various written forms. I think Marlon James's introduction perfectly summarizes this collection and the writing "It takes a big mind, or at least a big worldview to write from such a small space..." I thoroughly enjoyed So Many Islands Is a collection of short stories, poems, essays from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. When I heard about this collection of stories, I instantly gravitated to the idea of different island people coming together to speak their truth in various written forms. I think Marlon James's introduction perfectly summarizes this collection and the writing "It takes a big mind, or at least a big worldview to write from such a small space..." I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and I really felt at home reading this book. The major standouts for me were: Tread Lightly by Emma Kate Lewis (Malta) The Plundering by Heather Barker (Barbados) Granny Dead (by Melanie Schwapp (Jamaica) A Child of Four Women by Marita Davies (Kiribati) Unaccounted For by Tracy Assing (Trinidad and Tobago) Coming off the long run by Cecil Browne (Saint Vincent and the Grendadines) If you are from an island, currently living on an island or planning on visiting an island, you should definitely pick up a copy of this collection. Outstanding stories from amazing Islanders!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Apphia Barton

    So Many Islands is a fitting title for this anthology. These inspired by life short stories, essays, poems remind us of how akin our experiences as islanders are, beyond the commonalities of our "insulation and isolation". Tears welled up for a few, I was pleasantly surprised for others and I nodded my head with understanding as I read on. I had a few laughs while reading ''Coming off the Long Run - Cecil Browne''; I appreciated the lightheartedness and humor, it more or less sealed the deal So Many Islands is a fitting title for this anthology. These inspired by life short stories, essays, poems remind us of how akin our experiences as islanders are, beyond the commonalities of our "insulation and isolation". Tears welled up for a few, I was pleasantly surprised for others and I nodded my head with understanding as I read on. I had a few laughs while reading ''Coming off the Long Run - Cecil Browne''; I appreciated the lightheartedness and humor, it more or less sealed the deal or confirmed the balance and versatility of this work. Avocado by Kendel Hippolyte got me thinking about the possible disappearance of my island, my home and our culture. About the ease with which this disappearance occurs and how can I preserve my sweet island. My faves were - Oceania - Karlo Mila The Plundering - Heather Barker Neo-Walt Village Combing - Mere Taito Granny Dead - Melanie Schwapp Immunity - Damon Chua 1980s Pacific Testing Coming off the Long Run - Cecil Browne ( Something Tiny - Erato Ioannou Avocado - Kendel Hippolyte

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cardyn Brooks

    This review first appeared on MediaDiversified.org on March 11, 2018. So Many Islands circumnavigates the local to global essence of human experiences from Oceania to the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Indian Oceans. These contributors’ seventeen voices are as distinctive as the cultural anthems of each of their countries of origin. There is nothing quaint or precious. Their words bite and sting. They rebuke the popular notion inherited from the trickle-down influence of a “past of colonial This review first appeared on MediaDiversified.org on March 11, 2018. So Many Islands circumnavigates the local to global essence of human experiences from Oceania to the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Indian Oceans. These contributors’ seventeen voices are as distinctive as the cultural anthems of each of their countries of origin. There is nothing quaint or precious. Their words bite and sting. They rebuke the popular notion inherited from the trickle-down influence of a “past of colonial exploitation” mentioned in Nicholas Laughlin’s foreword of indigenous islanders, particularly black and brown non-Anglo/Aryan/Caucasian/white citizens, as malleable, adult-sized children. The organically developed theme of islands as microcosms of the human condition starts with the poignant and pragmatic introduction by Marlon James. On page 16 he writes, “This is the real globalism, a glorious cacophony that seeks no common ground other than attitude… and writers who write with nothing hanging on their backs.” Some standouts among a stellar lineup remained in my thoughts hours after taking in the last word. “The Plundering” by Heather Barker from Barbados begins innocently enough until a menacing vibe swells to a crescendo of Trading Places collides with The Purge. Cultural appropriation gets skewered in “Neo-Walt Village” by Mere Taito from Rotuma (Fiji). Some stanzas read as if written to be sung to the tune of a certain earworm song that repeats during a slow boat ride at what’s been self-proclaimed the happiest place on planet Earth while island nations are strip-mined of their uniqueness to pad corporate coffers. The eerie “Granny Dead” by Melanie Schwap from Jamaica manages to pack a novel’s-worth of imagery and commentary about complicated family dynamics, generational conflict, social class as caste system, skin color as an indicator of intrinsic worthiness, and gender-based double standards with prose that lilts across a few pages filled with everyday heartbreaks and layers of grief. One recurring element that reads as a distinctly islander and not mainland or Western cultural trait is an inherent respect and appreciation for the existence and wisdom of the elders. From Papa Dickey in Angela Barry’s “Beached” to Grandma in Mikoyan Vekula’s “The Maala” and Crazy Anni in “Roses for Mister Thorne” by Grenada’s Jacob Ross, a community’s most senior citizens are consulted and (often grudgingly) obeyed even when younger people feel impatient, annoyed, and confused when interacting with them. Is there something about the scarcity of human resources in island nations that predisposes them to recognize the value of what older people have to offer their society? In the afterword on page 199, Sia Figiel composes a fitting comparison of the art of sewing one flower to another with a singing technique that connects songs, which is an appropriate description of this anthology as a clarion call to action in defense and preservation of island nations. https://mediadiversified.org/2018/03/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katya Kazbek

    I am so happy this book exists. On my quest to read books from all corners of the world, I found it hardest to get my hands on written word from island nations and countries newly liberated from colonialism. This books covers the first issue perfectly. It is a great primer on some fantastic established writers, and a wonderful introduction to the works of people previously unpublished but hugely promising. And to read writers from Tonga, Kiribati and Niue was the best treat. The writing is as I am so happy this book exists. On my quest to read books from all corners of the world, I found it hardest to get my hands on written word from island nations and countries newly liberated from colonialism. This books covers the first issue perfectly. It is a great primer on some fantastic established writers, and a wonderful introduction to the works of people previously unpublished but hugely promising. And to read writers from Tonga, Kiribati and Niue was the best treat. The writing is as diverse as could be—the stories, essays and poems delve into the complications wrought on the simple life by colonialism, war, migration, patriarchy, and otherness. But at the forefront of it all is the ocean, and the nature that flourishes on its shores: defiant, wild, eternal. I particularly liked the stories by Melanie Schwapp, Jacob Ross, Sabah Carrim, Damon Chua and Angela Barry. The poems by Fetuolemoana Elisara and Kendel Hippolyte are phenomenal. Erato Ioannou’s story about Yiayia is delightful: I will never have enough of the Greek/Cypriot grandmothers in literature and/or life. And in such a devastating setting! I hope Ioannou writes more! And I really hope all the authors in the anthology who don’t yet will have lucrative careers ahead of them, and I hope there will be other anthologies just like that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Bhagan

    “Everything we write stands one foot on land, the other in the sea. We can’t help it: we’re from where the air is clear, so it’s almost impossible to think small. Because, for all our smallness, it is only when we come to places like the United States of the United Kingdom that we actually confront the minute, the hemmed-in, and the cut off. It is where we, for the first time, have to make do with ultra-confined space, regimented lives, contracted social circles, and no easy escape. How odd it “Everything we write stands one foot on land, the other in the sea. We can’t help it: we’re from where the air is clear, so it’s almost impossible to think small. Because, for all our smallness, it is only when we come to places like the United States of the United Kingdom that we actually confront the minute, the hemmed-in, and the cut off. It is where we, for the first time, have to make do with ultra-confined space, regimented lives, contracted social circles, and no easy escape. How odd it is, then, an oddness that doesn’t escape a single writer from an island country, that we have to return to our small islands if only to remember how to live large.” – Marlon James, Introduction, So Many Islands This year, I am continuing to focus on my backlist – reading books I’ve always want to read rather than what’s hot at the moment. For me, it’s a personal choice. I usually read books when the hype has died down so I can make my own judgment call in my own timing. Recently, I completed So Many Islands, an anthology from Peekash Press, with contributing work from island writers across the globe. For me, the standout stories and poems include: 🌟Neo-Walt Village Combing by Mere Taito (Fiji) 🌟Plaine-Verte by Sabah Carrim (Mauritius) 🌟Granny Dead by Melanie Schwapp (Jamaica) 🌟Beached by Angela Barry (Bermuda) 🌟Roses for Mister Thorne by Jacob Ross (Grenada)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    A fine anthology- somewhat uneven in quality. I was hoping for more of a showcase but the main theme of this selection was very centered on island identity and belonging or the feeling of not-belonging. All of which are fine to explore, although one of the pitfalls of being a writer from a small island seems to be a kind of pigeon-holing, an expectation that THIS is the most worthwhile thing for you to be writing about.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robyn Stephenson

    A great collection of island-inspired short stories, poems and essay. The perspectives were refreshing and the interwoven historical details really fleshed out the narratives. See a full review here --> http://susumba.com/books/reviews/so-m...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I went searching for the ocean and found it in this collection. The poems, essays, and short stories have taken me on a magical journey around the world to 17 island nations, and have also propelled me forward and backward through time, and into parallel dimensions. A must read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Startinmerc

    Can you score a collection of literature? Some were charming, some were moving, a couple were a bit boring tbh. It has made me curious of a few authors though, And Marlon's intro is great, obv. Arbitrary 3.5

  10. 5 out of 5

    stacy-marie

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A wonderfully multi-layered collection of essays, poems, and stories from authors hailing from island nations around the globe, particularly the Caribbean and the Pacific. Many if not all of these authors will be unfamiliar to US audiences due to the small percentage of non-US literature imported to our shores. Literature can be a window and door into the world and this collection does that - look through it into those worlds and cultures you have not yet met.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ariba Rashid

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  14. 4 out of 5

    David Pruitt

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christos Tsiailis

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

  17. 4 out of 5

    Solange

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexia

  19. 4 out of 5

    DreamingSpiresBecca

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Coldiron

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nailah Imoja

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy Matthew

  23. 4 out of 5

    YJ

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jas J

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lance Stack

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

  27. 5 out of 5

    June Austin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fra

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steph

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