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Volunteer Andrea enjoys a Caribbean-American literary event at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago.

Free food, free drinks, good literature and accents to die for – that was my Friday night at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago. Ambassador Dr. Neil Parsan started the evening with a reminder to the audience that 2012 is the 50th anniversary year of Trinidad’s independence (many embassy events are planned) and that March is Women’s History month.

What followed Dr. Parsan’s introduction can only be described as the force that is Dr. Acklyn Lynch. An author, activist and native of Trinidad (a Caribbean island known for its industry and multiculturalism), Dr. Lynch thrilled the audience with his impassioned endorsement of not only the works of Dr. Elizabeth Nunez, the guest of honor, but also the works of all Caribbean women writers.

In college, one of my favorite classes was dedicated to Latin American and Caribbean literature, which was a world apart from anything I had read about or experienced up until that time. Because of Professor Colbert Nepaulsingh who taught the class, I fell in love with the works of Jamaica Kincaid. I read everything of hers that the library had to offer. But only when I had some money to travel could I stare at the breadfruit tree that she so hated and contemplate what it might mean to Caribbean people.

These were my thoughts as Dr. Elizabeth Nunez, another Trinidad native and the guest of honor, took the microphone. Where Dr. Lynch was boisterous, Dr. Nunez was soft-spoken but no less forceful. The award-winner author of eight novels, Dr. Nunez read moving passages from her novel Anna In-Between and referenced her more recent novel Boundaries. Her selections focused on the dislocation of Caribbean natives who moved to the United States and tried to visit the country of their birth and on the Caribbean-American version of the glass ceiling.

I came away from the event knowing that I would soon be reading books by Dr. Nunez. It’s been too long! And I’ve always wanted to thank Professor Nepaulsingh for introducing me to Caribbean literature. I haven’t spoken to him in years, but I just looked him up. It turns out he’s from Trinidad!

Even though you may have missed the Embassy event, Dr. Nunez’s work can still be experienced at the Folger Shakespeare Library which selected her as one of twelve writers to have an essay appear in an exhibition called “Shakespeare’s Sisters.” The exhibition runs through May 20, 2012.

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