Merle Hodge - Author

Featured books by Merle Hodge

One Day, One Day Congotay

One Day, One Day Congotay

Author: Merle Hodge Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/01/2022

Merle Hodge’s rare achievement is to create a dynamic work of fiction around the life of a woman who is unquestionably good: Gwynneth Cuffie, schoolteacher, lover of children and music, and pillar of her small semi-rural community.  The novel shares her adult life through the long, hard years of colonialism on the Caribbean island of Cayeri in the first half of the 20th century. Within Gwynneth’s family are all the faultlines of the Cayerian world. She, with sister Viola and younger brother, Roy, are the children of ill-sorted parents, a marriage wrought from a surge of youthful sexual attraction, but thereafter of two Black lives headed in different directions. Her Catholic schoolmaster father is desperate for respectability at the cost of denying everything about himself and his past in the impoverished world of the yards; her mother, a seamstress, is a stalwart of the Spiritual Baptist church, then banned by the authorities as a threat to colonial order. She is the one person that headmaster Cuffie dare not try to control. But when Gwynneth becomes deeply and tragically involved in the anti-colonial struggle, there grows an insuperable breach between father and daughter. Gwynneth’s triumph is to build treaty between the world of colonial education, and the world of Mumma’s Spiritual Baptist village where Africa -- feared and hated by Puppa and the aspiring middle classes -- remains a very real and revivifying presence. It is from the rhythms of Africa that the local youth, whom Teacher Gwynnie assiduously supports, develop the iron bands that bring modernity to local music and grow into the national culture of steelband. The tensions within the Cuffie family continue through the generations – Roy, the apple of his father’s eye, alumnus of an elite college that has taught him to be ashamed of his race, is in dramatic conflict with his sisters. But Merle Hodge offers another vision of family that has little to do with biology, and everything to do with love. This is the family that gathers on the Cuffie sisters’ gallery: Ollie and Gaston, the two men with whom the sisters have deep friendships, but from whom they maintain their independence; neighbours Marjorie and Lennox (himself a child Marjorie has taken in) and Sonny, the child of Mumma’s carer, Monica, who has left him in the sisters’ capable hands to pursue her opportunities in the USA. It is Sonny who is Gwynneth’s true life work, the child who promises to hold the future to account. This is a novel whose form is true to its meaning, a book that balances linear narrative with a structure that peels away the layers of time in a way that shows the constant interpenetration of past, present and future. Its subject is life, tragic, comic but always in struggle for better must come. It revisits and revisions the colonial world from a womanist perspective. It is a novel, like George Elliot’s Middlemarch that celebrates the small, hidden lives that make the world a better place. Like any richly documented historical novel, it has much to say, by implication, about the present.

Other books by Merle Hodge

The Knots in English

The Knots in English

Author: Merle Hodge Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2011

We all write: emails, letters, articles, proposals, reports, press releases, essays and examinations. But for Caribbean English-speakers, writing `proper' English is often a challenge since we are in fact Creole-speakers. In The Knots in English, Merle Hodge capitalises on her 25 years of teaching experience to break down the differences between English grammar and Creole grammar and provide users with a key tool in improving language proficiency. It uses straightforward examples to demystify the English language for the student, teacher, professional and everyday user alike. Knots is divided into 8 sections and is laid out in an easy to follow format, complete with answers. One of its best features is that users may consult individual sections for clarification on particular points or work through each section from beginning to end. Since its initial publication in 1997, The Knots in English has established itself as the go-to guide for teaching and learning English in the Caribbean and is intended primarily as an English language teaching support. The Knots in English will prove valuable to all Caribbean English-speakers.

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