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Eric Minns: Island Boy

I am not sure that this book should be here as it isn’t really very good but it is (so far) the only one from the Bahamas so here it is. Much of it reads like a handout from the Bahamas Tourist Board but that does add to the interest as I learned a lot about the Bahamas that I did not previously know. John is a (white) Bahamian. Nineteen years previously, unable to find a proper job in the Bahamas, he had, at the suggestion of a friend, gone up to Toronto to work as a cook and had stayed. He makes friends, particularly Billy, has a girlfriend, Josephine, and makes a living. He had never been back to the Bahamas, primarily because he could not afford to. He has actually been thinking of going back when he learns that his mother has cancer, so makes arrangements to go back. Of course, when he returns, things have changed since his departure and generally for the better. He remembers, with pleasure, the food (boiled fish and hot Johnny cakes, for example), the music and, of course, the weather.

But he also remembers all the various parts of Bahamas history and culture, which he had forgotten. These include the story of his family’s arrival in the Bahamas in 1834, because of a shipwreck, but also historical events, such as the Duke of Windsor being governor and the death of Sir Harry Oakes, about which Minns wrote a book, and cultural features, such as calypso. And, of course, he finds a girlfriend (and is very happy when Billy and Josephine start a relationship and even come and visit him in the Bahamas.) Of course, he is going to stay, even though he has his ups and downs with Angela, his new girlfriend. He does find out about his background, which adds to the excitement, but, overall, it is an enjoyable read but not great literature.

Publishing history

First published in 1980 by Loric