Session 3 – Narratives

Robert Antoni and Oonya Kempadoo – in conversation with Kelly Baker Josephs – will each present their digital storytelling projects. Antoni’s project is a digital companion to his most recent novel, As Flies to Whatless Boys. It imagines the digital space as supplemental to the traditionally fixed space of the novel, providing readers with multimedia experiences of the narrative. Kempadoo’s project, Naniki, exists wholly online, utilizing the multi-dimensionality of the digital space to form a speculative narrative that raises questions about Caribbean sustainability.

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Robert Antoni is the author of five books: Divina Trace, Blessed is the Fruit, My Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales, Carnival, and As Flies to Whatless Boys. His fictional world is the British West Indies—the region’s characters, atmosphere, history, folklore, and above all its vernacular languages; it is informed by a pan-Caribbean consciousness of race, gender, religion, and class. Antoni’s books have been widely translated, and have been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, Commonwealth Writers Prize, and an NEA grant. His short fiction was selected as an Editor’s Choice, included in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, and chosen for the Aga Kahn Prize by the Paris Review. Antoni recently received the NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad and Tobago National Library. He holds an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He lives in Manhattan and teaches in the graduate writing program at The New School University.

Oonya Kempadoo, grew up in Guyana and has worked and lived in various Caribbean islands and resides in Grenada for the last 15 years. Her first novel, Buxton Spice (1998), was long-listed for the Orange Prize and translated into six languages. Her second novel Tide Running won a Casa De Las Americas 2002 prize, was also well received on both sides of the Atlantic and Kempadoo was named a “Great Talent for the 21st Century” by the Orange Prize judges. Oonya’s latest novel, All Decent Animals, published by Farrar Strauss & Giroux, USA May 2013, was listed #6 on Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine summer reads. She is currently completing a narrative of local perspectives of sexual abuse and developing a speculative fiction, multi-media, eco-social project. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and has worked in the Caribbean region as a consultant and social development researcher. Oonya is the co-founder and director of the only public library and literacy centre in St George’s Grenada and a professional member of PEN America.

Kelly Baker Josephs
(Associate Professor of English, York College/CUNY) specializes in World Anglophone Literature with an emphasis on Caribbean Literature. She teaches courses in Anglophone Caribbean Literature, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Literatures of the African Diaspora, and Gender Studies. Her book, Disturbers of the Peace: Representations of Insanity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature (University of Virginia Press, 2013), considers the ubiquity of madmen and madwomen in Caribbean literature between 1959 and 1980. She is the editor of sx salon: a small axe literary platform and manages The Caribbean Commons website. Her current project, Caribbean Articulations: Storytelling in a Digital Age, explores the intersections between new technologies and Caribbean cultural production.