Award Winning Caribbean Authors Journey to Edinburgh


My friend, the quietly dynamic publisher Tanya Batson-Savage of Blue Banyan Books sent me this information on three great authors for young adults, who will be traveling to the 2019 Edinburgh International Book Festival this summer. I reviewed the novel “Children of the Spider” by Guyana’s Imam Baksh two years ago, here. It was a rollercoaster ride, and I am sure his new award winner will be equally thrilling. I notice he mentions A Child’s Garden of Verses by that wonderful Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson as an inspiration. This was one of my cherished books as a child, and I am wondering what happened to my beloved illustrated copy. Would it be ridiculous to buy myself a new one, at my age?

Which reminds me…I am planning a book blog, separate from this one, in the very near future. It will include not only book reviews, but news, author information, events, interviews, quotes and anything related to the wonderful world of reading and writing – with a Jamaican/Caribbean leaning, but also with a window on global happenings, too. Stay tuned! And stay tuned also for reviews of these three new publications.

Blue Banyan Books

Award-Winning Caribbean Authors Journey to Edinburgh

Three fresh Caribbean voices will join the throng of writers at the 2019 Edinburgh International Book Festival this summer. They are Imam Baksh, author of The Dark of the Sea; Elizabeth Jones, author of A Dark Iris; and Shakirah Bourne, author of My Fishy Stepmom, who are the winner and both finalists for the 2018 CODE Burt Award, for Caribbean young adult literature.

One of the world’s most prestigious literary festivals and a leading showcase for children’s authors and illustrators, the Edinburgh Festival takes place over two weeks in August. The three authors will participate in multiple events, including workshops and presentations, some to the general public and others to students.

On Sunday, August 15 at 5pm, Elizabeth Jones joins author Eloise Williams in a discussion of ‘Magic and Meaning’. Shakirah Bourne will deliver a masterclass on short story writing on Tuesday, August 20 at 2pm. With ‘Throwing Voices’, on Wednesday, August 21 at 3:45, Imam Baksh delivers a unique collaborative presentation using music and verse to explore how local language, culture, and tradition can resonate across linguistic divides.

The Dark of the Sea by Imam Baksh

The three novels differ in style yet are equally intriguing and exciting. The Dark of the Sea, Baksh’s second CODE award win, is a fantasy adventure set in rural Guyana amongst corruption, alcoholism, suicide and a less than desirable school system, where Danesh, a dyslexic 15-year-old discovers a world of myth and magic beneath the sea and becomes an unlikely hero.

My Fishy Stepmom by Shakirah Bourne

Bourne’s My Fishy Stepmom perfectly blends contemporary issues and folklore as 12-year-old Josephine and her best friend Akhai suspect something “fishy” about her father’s new girlfriend. Mythical creatures such as bacous, douens and even a sea Mumma are brought to life in this hilarious, action-filled fantasy.

Elizabeth Jones’ A Dark Iris explores the role of art in giving voice to those who had previously been silenced in this blend of historical fiction and magical realism, as the paintings of young Rebekah Eve’s illustrations shed light on the legend of Sally Basset.

All three authors are excited. “I attended Edinburgh years ago as a student and loved every minute. So, it’s a great honor to now be invited as a featured author,” said Ms. Bourne.

British-born Elizabeth Jones is proud to represent Bermuda. “I’m excited about this fantastic opportunity to meet other others to share cultural perspectives and experiences as writers of young adult fiction.”

For Imam, attending the festival is like the continuation of a journey he began as a child when he first got his hands on the imaginative power within A Child’s Garden of Verses.

“Scotland is a land of famous myths and monsters and so it’s a fitting place for me to present a book like The Dark of the Sea, which brings a modern sensibility to old tales of the Caribbean and twists them with an international flavor,” Mr. Baksh says. A longtime admirer of Scottish writers R.L. StevensonAlistair McLean, and Iain Banks, he finds personal joy in visiting their homeland to tell his own stories.

The Dark of the Sea and A Dark Iris will be released in the UK on October 1, 2019, under Blue Banyan’s imprint, Blouse and Skirt Books.

For more information please contact Tanya Batson-Savage at books@bluebanyanbooks.com

A Dark Iris by Elizabeth Jones

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