I too believe that we share with all people a unity that national and cultural boundaries cannot destroy and that stories aimed at the human heart will make their way across these boundaries and reach us as human beings wherever we are. But there is also the sense in which cultural and national distinctions are a critical component of my voice and what I want to say is linked with the world I am coming from, its rhythm, challenges and spirit. In much the same way that West Indian cricketers wanted in their glory days to see themselves not just as cricketers but as West Indian cricketers, I want to affirm myself as a Caribbean writer, accepting my particularity as an emblem, seizing it as the delightful responsibility to a style and substance that, as I seek to exercise it, to engage it, will not only express the people and place that I write about, but shed a radiance on language itself.
Who do I write for? Who do I aim to challenge and to affirm? Whose opinion do I treasure? These pop up when I try to think on the question. The reader who I must not disappoint is that reader who wants to see what I have made of her neighbours and his people and our world.
—Earl Lovelace was born in Toco, Trinidad, and has lived most of his life on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. His books include The Wine of Astonishment, While Gods Are Falling, winner of the BP Independence Award, the Caribbean classic The Dragon Can’t Dance, and Salt, which won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize. He is the author of the new novel Is Just a Movie, published by Haymarket Books. The novel was named the Grand Prize winner of the 2012 Bocas Literary Festival.
2paragraphs gives special thanks to Anderson Tepper for curating our International Writers Interviews. Mr. Tepper is on the staff of Vanity Fair and is a Contributing Editor at Words Without Borders.