Award-winning British writers explore race in literature, past and present
Seton Hall students have the opportunity to expand their literary horizons when two British writers visit campus on Thursday, April 28, as a part of their “Breaking Ground U.S. Tour.”
According to tour organizers, this event is meant to spread awareness about writers of color, all of whom come from various ethnic and literary backgrounds.
As a part of the tour, SHU will welcome authors Colin Grant and Bernardine Evaristo, who will do public readings. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Arts and Sciences Hall, room 107.
Grant said that he plans to focus on literature in relation to history. In particular, he will demonstrate how one’s writing can affect ways in which the past is interpreted.
This appears to be a subject close to Grant’s heart as he has written two biographies, “Negro with a Hat,” a biography of Marcus Garvey and “I & I: The Natural Mystics,” a group biography on the original Wailers. Grant also penned a memoir, “Bageye at the Wheel,” which was published in 2012.
In terms of his literary voice and style, Grant highlighted the importance of remaining objective in his historical works while also engaging the reader.
The author went on to explain how the underrepresentation of people of color in literature inspired him to write about such topics.
“When I was growing up in the UK I rarely found African/Caribbean subjects depicted in books in the local library or bookshops,” Grant said in an email interview. “I was determined to correct that oversight.”
Bernardine Evaristo has also written a number of works, including seven books, literary criticism, essays, poetry and fiction.
Evaristo said she enjoys experimenting in her writing, creating her own literary language and challenging ideas such as longheld myths regarding cultural identities.
In fact, her most recent novel, “Mr. Loverman,” centers on a 74-year-old Caribbean Londoner who goes through life hiding his homosexuality.
The theme of this novel seems to also reflect the author’s mission of advocacy. Evaristo is passionate about lending a voice to those who have not been given such an opportunity.
“She is a staunch and longstanding advocate for the inclusion of artists and writers of color and she has initiated schemes to ensure that they are heard and represented in the creative industries,” according to a statement from her website.
Evaristo added that she was inspired to go into theater writing after seeing a lack of representation in this realm on behalf of the black community.
In addition to the importance of advocacy, both Grant and Evaristo echoed a similar thought for aspiring writers by suggesting that writing is a journey and one should not give up on it, despite the pitfalls he or she encounters.
Julie Trien can be reached at julie. firstname.lastname@example.org.