Other – Literary Arts
Earl Lovelace celebrates the music of the Trinidad idiom in novels that assert the literary validity of the lives of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. For over 50 years, this award-winning writer has maintained a running relationship with the society, channelling it back to itself, in language that it understands by heart.
Having grown up in close-knit communities in Tobago, Toco, Belmont and Morvant in Port of Spain, Earl Lovelace writes out of a life-long fascination with community life. His artist’s sensibility is keyed to the nuances of relationships that shape the personalities of the people and frame the romance of each place. He also writes out of the rich knowledge of rural communities that he acquired in working with the Departments of Forestry and Agriculture.
His first novel, While Gods Are Falling, was written while he worked as a forest ranger in Valencia. With its search for meaning and value beyond the material, it had an immediate impact in newly independent Trinidad and Tobago and was awarded the winner of the BP Independence Literature Award.
It was followed by The Schoolmaster, set in rural Cumaca, and explored the conflicts between progress and self-affirmation, another theme of the times. His popularity exploded with his next book, The Dragon Can’t Dance (1979), which introduced him to a global audience and established his reputation as one of the most important writers of post-Independent Caribbean.
Set in Laventille, Port of Spain, Dragon captivated readers with the music of the Lovelace’s prose as it explored the live issues of belonging and identity. It was written while Lovelace was in the United States where he studied at Howard University and at Johns Hopkins University (M.A., English). In 1980, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent the year as a visiting writer at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
His next book, The Wine of Astonishment (1982), was released to critical acclaim. With Salt, he won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, 1997. In 2011, Is Just a Movie took the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the Grand Prize for Literature in Guadeloupe.
In 1988, he was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold). Watching and writing from his permanent base in Trinidad and Tobago, Earl Lovelace chronicles, with optimism, the movement of a society still trying to find its way in the world.