New Guyanese Publications in 2006
Preserving our literary heritage

By Petamber Persaud
Guyana Chronicle
December 24, 2006

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IN an article captioned “Of Books and Citizens”, published forty years ago in the “Booker News”, Martin Carter illustrated the value of books. He declared that books allow citizens into the debate, helped to deepen understanding and sharpen criticism.

The end result of these processes is the enrichment of the individual personality and ultimately, the enrichment of the community.

The year 2006 was another very good year for Guyanese literature. Many excellent publications were launched in Guyana and numerous books published here and abroad. (A depressing note, however, is that many Guyanese books published abroad do not reach this country.)

Here are a few titles to enrich our day.
A proper place to begin this odyssey is with the publication of “Guyana” , the coffee-table book that bears it all about this country. This massive 240-page book coloured in with 400 imposing photographs give an overall picture of the complex history and vibrant culture of this country, portraying Guyana – the country - in all its gracious simplicities and glorious complexities.

“Guyana” is edited by Arif Ali and published by Hansib Publications Ltd. UK.

Following in the wake of yet another local surge towards the restoration of the Theatre Guild, Kingston, is the first major publication on local theatre. This book, A History of Theatre Guyana 1800 - 2000, compiled by Frank Thomasson was published by Peepal Tree Press. Thomasson was closely involved with the Guild during the 1950s and 1960s while he was here working for Bookers.

The next on our list are two books on Martin Carter that were released to coincide with the ninth death anniversary of that great poet.

Martin Carter: University of Hunger, Collected Poems & Selected Prose, edited by Gemma Robinson, published by Bloodaxe Books. It is an extensive work containing a 36-page introduction by Robinson and over 70 pages of notes that provide bibliographic details and commentaries relating to the specific phrases in the poetry and prose.

Collations of lexical differences are given when there are multiply versions of a poem’.

Poems by Martin Carter, edited by Ian McDonald and Stewart Brown, published by Macmillan, is an insightful reworking of the prize-winning book, Selected Poems by Martin Carter. Still on poetry we have four locally produced books.

Twenty Four Poems by Merlin October Persaud, Moongazer by Lorri Alexander, Plain Taak and Lest We Forget by Petamber Persaud.

From Peepal Tree Press we have The Gift Of Screws by Brian Chan, and A Leaf In His Ear: Selected Poems by Mahadai Das.

In the fiction category we have such novels as Drums of My Flesh by Cyril Dabydeen, Tsar, The Brown Curtains by Clive Sankardayal, published by Jako Books, USA, and Illustrious Exile, by Andrew O. Lindsay, Peepal Tree Press.

The Brown Curtains is one of the few West Indian novels to explore intra Caribbean migration and cultural differences among the Caribbean Community countries and has important implications for CSME and Caribbean integration.

As a norm, the least addition is in the category of children literature – Fables and Tales of Guyana by Norma Jean, and Layers of the Rainforest by Shirley Najhram. Of course, if we are to augment this grouping, we must add the two categories of children literature in The Guyana Annual 2006-2007 namely The Henry Josiah Writing Short Story for Children Competition and The Rajkumari Singh Writing Poetry for Children Competition.

Other notable titles of 2006 include: Cultural Identiy and Creolisation in National Unity:The Multi-Ethnic Caribbean by Prem Misir, University Press of America; Georgetown: Anthology of Georgetown and a Piece of the World, by Hamilton Green; National Defence: A Brief history of the GDF, 1965 to 2005, by David Granger, Free Press, Guyana; and Immigrant #99840 and Canecutter #7074: The Story of an East Indian Family in Guyana by Lal Balkaran, AuthorHouse: Bloomington, Canada.

In the category of food for thought and thought for food, we could turn the pages of An Adventure in Caribbean Cuisine, reminding us that cooking is also a science and that the practice of good home economics is the foundation of a progressive society.

And we must include our journals and magazines that fill the gap between books and newspapers namely GEM, The Arts Journal, Explore Guyana, Guyana Review and The Guyana Annual.

These few titles in a long and impressive list of new Guyanese publications (see bookshelf section of THE GUYANA ANNUAL 2006-2007) comprise a reasonable representation of the development and direction of Guyanese literature.

However, while Guyanese writing abroad is on sound grounding, the local writing industry needs more support.

Responses to this author telephone (592) 226-0065 or email:

Look out for THE GUYANA ANNUAL 2006-2007, a tradition started in December 1915 courtesy of the then Chronicle newspaper. This issue continues the tradition of excellence in Guyanese literary and cultural heritage with the results of six competitions in poetry and fiction with special sections on literature written for children. This family-oriented general magazine offers scintillating recipes, Balgobin stories in the tradition of Guyanese folklore, Guyanese proverbs, articles on Guyanese cricket, festivals of Guyana, attitudes of young people in Guyana to HIV/AIDS, avant-garde art, Carifesta, and pen-portraits of Helen Taitt, Philip Moore and Paul O’Hara. Two-page listing of new Guyanese publications. And much more…