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

Rooted in the cultural complexities of a Caribbean island, where colonialism constricts and oppresses deeper-rooted connections, beliefs, and potential futures, Merle Hodge’s One Day, One Day Congotay is a mighty achievement. Set on shifting sands, and ringing with iron band rhythms, this is an ambitious, immersive, tragi-comic tour de force that draws readers into an enlightening journey through generations, family tensions, village life, and community conflict through the first half of the 20th-century.  Gwynneth Cuffie — teacher, music-lover and champion of children — lives in a rural village on the Caribbean island of Cayeri where she treads a tight-rope between very different worlds. Conflict simmers at the heart of the Cuffie family. Through their lives, they follow very different, and often opposing, paths. While Gwynneth’s father is a Catholic schoolmaster driven by a desire to be seen as “respectable”, her seamstress Mumma is devoted to the Spiritual Baptist church, which has been banned by the colonial authorities who fear it.  Meanwhile, Gwynneth and her sister Viola are at odds with their brother. Favoured by their father, Roy’s education at an elite school leads him to feel ashamed of his race, while Gwynneth becomes deeply involved in the anti-colonial struggle (cue further conflict with her father), and devotes her life to various forms of reconciliation.  Working within the colonial education system, Gwynneth facilitates the forming of a school tamboo bamboo band, and supports emerging iron bands. Pertinent to current times, she notes the lack of representation in children’s books, the fact they only depict “rosy-cheeked children”. And so Gwynneth encourages her pupils to be creative, to write and illustrate their own stories, “to convince them that Cayerian children and their lives were just as worthy of being written about”. She brings this same ethos and passion to music, declaring, “Cayerian children should also be learning some songs of their ancestors across the ocean — songs of African and India”, since this will “help ground our children in their own reality”. Rich with details of everyday life, the complexities of family relationships, political context, and the human impulse to strive for better, fairer days, this is a novel to savour and return to.  Keen to read more novels by Caribbean writers? We have a Collection devoted to exactly that. And you can discover more about this book’s fabulous publisher, Peepal Tree Press, in our Industry Insights feature interview.

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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