Barbadian book featured at Havana International Book Fair

The book Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba: Stories of Early Twentieth-Century Migration from Barbados by Barbadian journalist Dr Sharon Milagro Marshall was the subject of a panel discussion at the 26th Havana International Book Fair, now underway in Cuba.

Chair of Caribbean Studies at the University of Havana Dr. Milagros Martínez Reinosa introduced the book during the discussion, which was held last Friday at the prestigious editorial house, Casa de las Américas. Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies at Casa de las Américas, Camila Valdés León served as moderator.

From left, Gilberto Bengochea Pascal, Dr Sharon Marshall, Dr Milagros Martínez Reinosa and Camila Valdés León.
Donna Forde, Chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Barbados in Cuba, looks on as Dr Sharon Marshall signs her copy of the book.

“The book is an obligatory reference in Cuba if one is studying Barbadian migration to our country,” said Dr Martínez, noting that there had not been much research on the topic and adding that “we have done a much better job with researching Jamaican and Haitian migration to Cuba.”

She highlighted the rigour with which Marshall carried out her academic research.

“Sharon is a journalist as well as an academic, and that is why the book seduces us so much,” Dr Martínez noted.

In her remarks, Dr Marshall said the book honours the adventurous Barbadians like her maternal grandparents and other British West Indians who ventured out from their home countries to seek greener pastures in Cuba.

“I am so grateful that I was able to conduct interviews with some of these brave, resilient ancestors,” she said, “and to help them give voice to their stories, in their own words.”

She thanked Casa de las Américas and the Embassy of Barbados in Cuba for their invaluable assistance in ensuring that her book was included in the programme of the book fair.

Dr Marshall said it was the realization of a dream, made even more special by the fact that so many of her Cuban relatives were in attendance.

Dr Sharon Marshall presents a copy of her book to her cousin, Migdalia Ford Marshall, the oldest of her relatives in Cuba.

Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba was published in September 2016 by the University of the West Indies Press. The publication is available online fromuwipress.com, amazon.com, and from the distributors longleafservices.org.  In Barbados, it is available at the UWI bookshop at the Cave Hill Campus.

The Havana International Book Fair is considered Cuba’s premier cultural event, as well as the event with the highest attendance in Havana. It consists of seminars and panel discussions, book vending, poetry readings, children’s activities, book and art exhibitions, and concerts. The 2017 edition of the fair runs from February 9-19 in Havana, after which it will move to other provinces.

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