The USA booklist from California’s Small Press Distribution (SPD) includes a new book published in St. Martin: Caribbean Counterpoint: The Aesthetics of Salt in Lasana Sekou by Sara Florian, PhD.
Each month, SPD recommends its top 20 books, mostly from US independent presses. The selected titles are promoted nationwide to readers, book buyers, and libraries, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).
“To have the book about St. Martin’s people, culture and landscape in literature make the August list of ‘SPD Recommends’ is good news. The back-to-school season is a great time to share this news with St. Martin people, visitors, and readers beyond our shores,” said Sample.
Caribbean Counterpoint, published by HNP in June, is available at SPDbooks.org for Internet orders. The 200-page book is in St. Martin at Arnia’s, SoIL café, and Van Dorp bookstores (Madame Estate and Simpson Bay).
Caribbean Counterpoint: The Aesthetics of Salt in Lasana Sekou could be a paradigm shift on seeing how salt production impacted St. Martin people’s identity, culture, and history. It plunges into the centrality of the Great Salt Pond, said Sample.
“Sara’s St. Martin book could be a first such study, or even a challenge,” that compares Caribbean-wide influences of salt to the related socio-economic and cultural symbolism of sugar that dominates in Caribbean studies, art forms, and general knowledge, said Sample.
“Sekou’s work also shares some features ... with the Guyanese Martin Carter, the St. Lucian Kendel Hippolyte, the Grenadian Merle Collins, and the Jamaican Joan Andrea Hutchinson,” wrote Dr. Florian. The work of other St. Martin writers, as well as artists and musicians are discussed in the book.
In exploring “the writings of Lasana M. Sekou … Dr. Florian’s study delves deep into not only the poetry but also into the fiction and essays of this politically committed, coolly confident, witty and lively writer and activist,” said Anton G. Leitner, editor of Das Gedicht, the German literary magazine.
In studying some 40 years of Sekou’s work, Dr. Florian critically compares aspects of the St. Martin writer’s “aesthetics of salt” and “marronage” to authors and artists such as Kamau Brathwaite, David Rudder, LeRoy Clarke, and Édouard Glissant.
“Sara’s book at its best is an insightful work of an engaged critic ... putting her ear against the Caribbean and listening, ... to our poems, and to our stories, and to our novels, and looking at our art, listening to conversations between writers,” said Dr. Kei Miller, the award-winning Jamaican poet and novelist based in the UK.
Dr. Sara Florian hails from Italy and currently lectures at the National University of Singapore. Florian has studied at the Université La Sorbonne-Paris IV, École Normale Supérieure in Paris, Harvard University, and the research facilities of The University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados.
Florian obtained her PhD in Modern Philology at Cà Foscari University, Italy. Her dissertation focused on contemporary and comparative Caribbean literature.