Diana McCaulay joined us on the site between April and May 2014. She is an award winning Jamaican writer and a lifelong resident of its capital city Kingston. She has written two novels, Dog-Heart (2010) and Huracan (2012), published by Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom. Both novels met with critical acclaim and broke local publishing records. Dog-Heart won a Gold Medal in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s National Creative Writing Awards (2008), was shortlisted for the Guyana Prize (2011), the IMPAC Dublin Award (2012) and the Saroyan Prize for International Writing (2012).
Diana’s novels entice readers with the unique spirit and complexity of contemporary Jamaica. Dog-Heart is a compelling and dramatic story of one woman’s attempt to make a difference in the life of a young man from a disadvantaged community in Kingston, while Huracan, loosely based on Diana’s own family history is a part contemporary and part historical novel that tells the story of Leigh McCaulay, returning to Jamaica after 15 years in the US to make a home on the island. Although not a sequel to Dog-Heart, Huracan explains the origins of the ghetto in her first novel and the nature of white guilt explored in her second. Huracan was released in Jamaica in July 2012 and in the US in October 2012.
During her time as Visiting Writer Diana worked on her third novel The Dolphin Catcher, built on her eponymous 2012 Regional Commonwealth prizewinning short story, which was published by Granta online and is now available on our website. The Dolphin Catcher tells the story of a boy’s search for his grandfather who is lost at sea. The novel explores fundamental choices facing Jamaican society and many developing countries: the casting away of traditional knowledge in the embracing of fast changing modernity, the challenges of surviving in an economy mired in debt and unemployment, and the pressures of an unequal society that forces people into daily acts of compromise and corruption.
Diana founded the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) in 1991 and still serves as its CEO and guiding force. Her writing contains an authenticity and vibrancy derived from her active participation at many levels of Jamaican society. She was a popular newspaper columnist for The Gleaner (1994-2001) and her short fiction has been published by Granta online, Fleeting Magazine, The Caribbean Writer, Afro-Beat, Lifestyle Magazine and the Jamaica Observer’s literary supplement, Bookends.
Diana was born into the Jamaican upper-middle class and has spent a lifetime pondering questions of race, class, colour, and privilege in Jamaican society. The honest and penetrating insights in her novels and stories come from sharp observation and profound self-reflection, and arise out of experiences similar to the ones she has written about. Hers is a uniquely authentic voice from a background which usually turns away from all that she unflinchingly faces.