Fiction Map of the World- Jamaica

by Travelbag on 23 February 2015, 09:02AM

There is not much that can be said about Jamaica that has not been said before. Its icons are well-known all across the globe, as are its traditional styles of music, dance and food. In fact, for such a small island, Jamaica has somehow managed to become a place that everybody feels familiar with, even if they have not yet visited. If you belong in this category, it is time to take the plunge and experience this cultural playground for yourself. 


Essential Holiday Reading

The literary heritage of Jamaica is incredibly rich, perhaps more so than any of the other Caribbean islands. This could be because so many Jamaican immigrants took great journeys across the water in the sixties and seventies, seeking new lives in both Britain and America. As a result of this migration, Jamaican culture is no alien thing. As aforementioned, both its musical icons and its food are loved throughout the world. Yet, there is an aspect of Jamaican history and culture that precious few outsiders have an adequate knowledge about – its vast Chinese community. For a closer look, pick up Pao, by Chinese African author Kerry Young. It is at once mysterious, intriguing, moving and deeply confessional, making for a wonderful holiday read.         

Notable Jamaican Books

The Beautiful From Harvey River: A Memoir of my Mother and Her Island is an arresting autobiography from Jamaican author Lorna Goodison. In contrast to a lot of memoirs about cultural identity, this book is a uniquely joyful affair, defined by the most vividly depicted memories of home cooked meals, trips down the river, and incredible ties between mothers and daughter. This is a real revelation of a book, but for its unabashed delight – you will read it, and fall in love with its humour and vibrancy. For a more contemporary tale, check out Waiting in Vain, by Colin Channer, which tells the tale of a suave Jamaican man, who unwillingly falls in love with a beautiful and fiery magazine editor.  


Notable Jamaican Authors

The internationally renowned poet and writer, Kei Miller, is critically acclaimed for his deeply lyrical depictions of cultural exchange and cultural identity. Whilst there are always some very serious subject matters lurking beneath the surface, Miller somehow manages to keep his narratives light and springy – they never feel oppressive, but ever soaring in their representations of both Jamaica and Britain. It is especially interesting that he chooses to explore what he refers to as ‘the reverse colonised UK,’ defined by ‘green and yellow shops, where tie-headwomen bargain over the price of dasheen.’ As one of the most respected authors in Jamaica, Miller is certainly worth your time – even if it is spent reading and relaxing on a Caribbean beach. 


Notable Jamaican Films

The Jamaican film industry is a vibrant and robust place, which enjoys strong ties with Hollywood. In fact, one of the biggest films to heavily feature Jamaica, in recent years, was the 2012 documentary Marley. With the extremely skilled, but still unlikely, director of The Last King of Scotland at the helm, this film is an honest and ultimately joyful portrait of the most famous Jamaican in history. If you have any interest in the music of reggae icon Bob Marley, this is the film for you – sensitive, probing, tragic, beautiful and hilarious in equal measure. For an unflinching peek at 70s Jamaica, check out classic movie The Harder They Come, a film which is thought to have brought reggae music to the world.    

Essential Holiday Listening

There is nothing more valued in this part of the world than a good tune. In Jamaica, that means thumping beats, lots of bass and dancehalls full of people, just waiting to get their skank on. There is just so much to choose from, that it is difficult to pinpoint merely a few essential artists. You could pick at random from a list, and almost be guaranteed to find a band or an artist that you love. If the rapid pace and dancehall culture of ska and bashment are a little too intense for you, stick with the smoothest of the reggae crooners – legends like Dennis Brown, John Holt and Gregory Isaacs. You simply have not lived, until you have caught the perfect tan whilst listening to smooth, easy reggae. 

Notable Jamaican Musicians

There is only one artist who needs to be mentioned here, and his name will come as no surprise. The untimely death of Robert Marley, in 1981, shook Jamaica to its core. His funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands of devastated fans, including the Prime Minister, who could not quite believe that their icon was gone for good. There is something uniquely timeless about the music of this ever-smiling, ever-charming reggae star. If you have never indulged before, it is time to start now – you can guarantee that you will hear his voice from every corner of this part of the world.

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