Debut Caribbean author among noms for lit award

A local Caribbean-American author up for nomination for the Brooklyn Eagle’s Literary Prize, is thrilled about her very first book being up for the prize, and hopes to make a dent in Caribbean literature.

Flatbush native and author Naomi Jackson’s debut novel, “The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel,” has been nominated in the fiction category for the Brooklyn Public Library award – a library she says inspired her to keep writing.

“Surprises from libraries mean a lot to me, particularly from the Brooklyn Public Library because that’s where I got my first library card,” said Jackson. “This is my first hometown award, so I’m really excited a geeky way.”

The Brooklyn Eagle’s Literary Prize celebrates the works of authors who live or have lived in Brooklyn, for literature that celebrates the life and culture of the borough. Jackson’s book, “The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel,” follows the story of two young girls from Brooklyn sent go to Barbados under the impression that they will be temporarily staying with their grandmother, only to unravel a tale that ends in fate.

Jackson’s book takes readers into a story about the Caribbean-American experience, which she hopes adds a new perspective into Caribbean literature that is not often talked about. Jackson also says that the strong women stereotype has encroached Caribbean women, which has dominated Caribbean literature, but she hopes to introduce a new perspective that illustrates Caribbean women in a different light.

“My hope is that people look at Caribbean women with a different eye,” said Jackson. “I think that part of the stories we’ve read are popular notions of black women is that we’re incredibly strong — almost invincible. I’m trying to present a portrait of family that’s not invincible.”

The novel, based on storytelling Jackson remembers from childhood, tackles depression, suicide, and family dysfunction, which Jackson believes people will be able to relate to despite the heaviness of the those subjects.

“I was really interested in trying to capture stories of West Indians that hadn’t been told yet,” said Jackson. “I’m hopeful Caribbean people in my generation will read it. There’s not much in Caribbean literature that speaks to first and second generation Caribbeans who are straddling New York and the Caribbean.”

“The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel” is available for purchase in all formats, including an audiobook, and can be borrowed at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]

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