I’m on a school-to-school book tour of The Beast of Kukuyo, coordinated by Bocas Lit Fest and the Ministry of Education. St. Augustine Secondary’s librarian has rallied an entire discussion circle about the book.
The energy is real and the feelings of validation is incredible. Not too long after, a denominational school bans the book.
An agent at a major New York literary agency has read “The Repenters”. He is extremely impressed and expresses willingness to sign me, but doesn’t sign any clients without a completed manuscript. When he messages, I’m very far from completing an unpublished manuscript.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. I sit with the writer Sarah Hall in a cafe, who offers to put up my name for Wylie Agency.
We converse at moderate length about the many ups and downs of this ‘business’ aspect of writing, sales expectations, agents who’ll cast you aside for their bigger clients, and the fact that you need to cast all those fears aside to produce your best work. Concentrate on writing a good story, above all things, above all fears.
An agent, Chris Wellbelove, from Aitken Alexander Agency signs me, even though I have no completed manuscript. I assume it’s because I’d had two books with smaller presses already.
He’s contacted me after my 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize win, thanks to a tip-off from Marina Salandy-Browne from Bocas. I tell him I’m halfway through a novel, even though I’ve barely begun. For the rest of 2018, I hurriedly try to complete the novel.
I’m reading a short story at the arcade outside NALIS, during Bocas. Marina Salandy-Browne is in attendance and commends the readings.
I abort the novel, scrap every single damned word and decide to restart. Imposter syndrome takes over big-time. What am I doing? What am I really doing here?
I’m one of two Trinidadian Literature representatives for CARIFESTA XIII in Bridgetown, Barbados, one of the worst experiences I’ll have on this journey.
There is no forum for me to read, so I’m told to read to passers-by at an intersection of the Grand Market. A jazz band would play to an audience of one later that day, and a play troupe will put on a performance for the security personnel.
What am I doing? What am I really doing here?
Commonwealth Writers is about to launch a new platform called adda, which will serve as a collection of fiction and non-fiction for writers from all the various regions. They commission me to do one of the first pieces – something, anything on Trinidad, and I’m assigned an editor, Sunila Galapatti.
On a whim, I decide to do something non-fiction on La Paille Village, Caroni. I interview my grandfather and a village elder, and obtain information from my own parents and my in-laws. Angelo Bissessarsingh agrees to help me when I tell him about it. It is exhilarating to do the research. I write a piece called “Children of Straw”, which is well-received.
University of London and Peekash Press are doing an anthology called “We Mark Your Memory”. I fictionalize my piece to adda as my submission. It’s accepted, with a very nice note from the editor, David Dabydeen.
We Mark Your Memory is launching in Guyana. None of the Guyanese contributors of the anthology live in Guyana, so Trinidadians will have to suffice. Gabrielle Hosein and I do readings at Moray House in Georgetown.
I’m only there for one night. I leave work to go directly to the airport. I become a fan of the Guyanese overnight, except for the one customs officer who took a smoke break in the middle of processing arrivals. The flight is in the morning and I’m back to my day-job by lunchtime.
Kevin Jared Hosein is an author and science teacher born and raised in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago. He is a two-time winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Caribbean region.
He has published three books: The Beast of Kukuyo (Burt Award for Caribbean Literature), The Repenters (longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Prize and OCM Bocas Prize) and Littletown Secrets. His writings have been published in numerous anthologies and outlets including Lightspeed Magazine and Commonwealth Writers