Calypso Jews

Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imagination

Sarah Phillips Casteel

Columbia University Press

Calypso Jews

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Pub Date: January 2016

ISBN: 9780231174404

352 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00

Pub Date: January 2016

ISBN: 9780231540575

352 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99

Calypso Jews

Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imagination

Sarah Phillips Casteel

Columbia University Press

In original and insightful ways, Caribbean writers have turned to Jewish experiences of exodus and reinvention, from the Sephardim expelled from Iberia in the 1490s to the "Calypso Jews" who fled Europe for Trinidad in the 1930s. Examining these historical migrations through the lens of postwar Caribbean fiction and poetry, Sarah Phillips Casteel presents the first major study of representations of Jewishness in Caribbean literature. Bridging the gap between postcolonial and Jewish studies, Calypso Jews enriches cross-cultural investigations of Caribbean creolization.

Caribbean writers invoke both the 1492 expulsion and the Holocaust as part of their literary archaeology of slavery and its legacies. Despite the unequal and sometimes fraught relations between Blacks and Jews in the Caribbean before and after emancipation, Black-Jewish literary encounters reflect sympathy and identification more than antagonism and competition. Providing an alternative to U.S.-based critical narratives of Black-Jewish relations, Casteel reads Derek Walcott, Maryse Condé, Michelle Cliff, Jamaica Kincaid, Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen, and Paul Gilroy, among others, to reveal a distinctive interdiasporic literature.
A rich, consequential, powerful work that will make a difference in Jewish and postcolonial studies alike. Jonathan Freedman, author of Klezmer America: Jewishness, Ethnicity, Modernity
An engaging and rather unusual study of diaspora Jewry in the West Indies.... [that shines a] bright, exalting light... on the Caribbean and its many different peoples. Ian Thomson, Times Literary Supplement
Throughout Calypso Jews, Casteel makes a case for how hidden Sephardism has captured the imagination of culturally diverse authors post-slavery. The fullness and novelty of her research opens a fascinating dialogue on the intersections of black and Jewish relationships as revealed through Caribbean literature. Sharon Elswit, Jewish Book Council
A path-breaking study.... By bringing a fresh approach to a much-neglected area of scholarship, Casteel has made a major contribution to our understanding of the Caribbean writer's commitment to bearing witness to the traumas of modernity. Patrick Taylor, H-Caribbean
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part 1: 1492
1. Sephardism in Caribbean Literature: Derek Walcott's Pissarro
2. Marranism and Creolization: Myriam Chancy and Michelle Cliff
3. Port Jews in Slavery Fiction: Maryse Condé and David Dabydeen
4. Plantation Jews in Slavery Fiction: Cynthia McLeod's Jodensavanne
Part 2: Holocausts
5. Calypso Jews: John Hearne and Jamaica Kincaid
6. Between Camps: M. NourbeSe Philip and Michèle Maillet
7. Writing Under the Sign of Anne Frank: Michelle Cliff and Caryl Phillips
Conclusion
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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Winner of the 2016 Canadian Jewish Literary Award in the Scholarship Category

About the Author

Sarah Phillips Casteel is associate professor of English at Carleton University, where she holds a cross-appointment with the Institute of African Studies. She is the author of Second Arrivals: Landscape and Belonging in Contemporary Writing of the Americas and coeditor, with Winfried Siemerling, of Canada and Its Americas: Transnational Navigations.