"By that faint light of the lamp I plucked up courage to look at Grandmother, to look her in the face for the first time directly and without disguise... She sat up proud and straight in her rocker looking me over thoroughly as I examined her. Under the distant, calm, happy look of hers, the room seemed suddenly immense, and I sensed there were others there for whom Queen Without a Name was examining me, kissing me with little sighs of contentment. We were not merely two living beings in a cabin in the middle of the night, but, it seemed to me, something different, something much more, though I did not know what. Finally she whispered dreamily, as much to herself as to me: 'I thought my luck was dead, but today I see I was born a lucky Negress and shall die one.'
Such was my first evening in Fond-Zombi, and the night was dreamless, for I had already dreamed in broad daylight."
I used to be obsessed with the NYRB Classics line. Even on a poor student budget I acquired 20+ titles. When book blogs ruled all and the imprint had a typepad blog, Sara (who ran the blog) and I posted on each other's pages often. I combed through end of year lists to note all the NYRB classics. The first book I read from the line was A High Wind in Jamaica x Richard Hughes (of course). I deep dived into Francesca Woodman's photography after NC fted her work on covers.
All the writers on my shelf were white, except for two--Eileen Chang and Qui Miaojin.
I returned to Jamaica in a different state of mind. I feel somewhat disconnected from that reading life. The NYRB Classics, Virago Classics, Persephone, Dalkey Archive. The books and presses I needed to read to be cultured and supportive of neglected, overlooked writers.
I was shocked to find that NC had published The Bridge of Beyond in 2013 (my focus elsewhere). I can't shake the impression that part of my intense anticipation for this work was that a former idol had acknowledged it (and me). Was it less white now? •
Reading the book, I don't care. I am in a Queen's court by Mount Balata in Guadeloupe dreaming in broad daylight.