Telling stories of community life celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds that are, in most instances, not recognized.
White Frocks & Coals Dust, written by former Share reporter Lincoln Depradine, fits the bill as it candidly recounts the story of a Grenadian community, commonly referred to as “The Wharf”, where the author was raised and became an active part of that setting.
The book’s Canadian launch took place last week at the Grenada Consulate in downtown Toronto.
“This is a very happy occasion, especially because in the beginning there was the word which was awesomely important,” said lawyer, writer and consultant, Caldwell Taylor, who penned the foreword. “And after many years of the beginning came scribal literature, the written word, which is indescribably powerful in its own right.
“A lot of what is happening in this book is really a translation of our literature into a written form. The book is extremely important because it, among other things, ennobles ordinary people and their day-to-day miracles like making lunch when there was nothing in the kitchen at 9:00 in the morning.
“We tend to underestimate what has happened in the Caribbean. We made steelpans from 30-gallon drums that were thrown away by Americans in the Bay of Chaguaramas and we also made souse from pig feet and pig head thrown out from the Great House.
“We have always had an ability to create out of nothing and for me that is the wonder of the book in that it makes a story of the lives of people who before this time were seen as people who didn’t have a story to tell.”
Grenada’s Consul General, Jenny Gumbs, human rights and trade union activist, Bromley Armstrong and Trinidad & Tobago’s Consul General in Toronto, Michael Lashley, joined family, friends and colleagues in congratulating Depradine on his authorial debut.
“Our primary responsibility is to ensure that our side of our story is told by us,” said Lashley. “It’s also important that we are in a position to enjoy what we have. It takes a village to raise a child, but I think it takes more than a midwife to deliver a book.
“We have in fact the Caribbean village and we are here to birth the child who must have been long and painful in coming.”
Lashley noted that the book covers a range of social, political and cultural Caribbean stories.
“But, most important, embedded there are the linkages between all those various aspects of our existence,” he added. “You feel that as you read through something to which you can relate, which is the essence of the Caribbean person, and that is why we feel a joy, not only in reading the book, but when one of our own goes to the trouble to suffer all the birthing pains and eventually gave birth.
“The important thing is that once somebody has written a book and once the person comes from the Caribbean, we have a responsibility not only to support the book, but to celebrate the fact that the book has become a reality. This is not that person’s story and this is not Grenada’s story. This is our story and it’s our responsibility to tell that story.”
The book is being sold at A Different Booklist for $15.95 (taxes included).
“This is something truly to celebrate and to add to Caribbean literature and context and in the world of authors,” said storyteller and bookstore co-owner, Itah Sadu.