Island Princess in Brooklyn

Island Princess in Brooklyn

Written by Editor

Topics: Literature

In December 2011, children’s author Diane Browne launched her latest work “Island Princess in Brooklyn” in the Joyce Robinson Hall at the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Library on Tom Redcam Avenue. The book follows 13-year-old Princess on her journey from Jamaica to live with her mother in Brooklyn, New York. It takes readers on surprising twists and turns as the titular character struggles to adjust to the new environment and find a place for herself.

Diane Browne, author of "Island Princess in Brooklyn"

“I enjoyed getting to know Princess,” Browne said of the book’s young heroine. “I got to like her by the end of the book and it was almost as if she was telling her own story.”

Browne described the process of developing the story, which took a year to write and another year to rewrite, as “lovely” – a fitting word given her professed fondness of the location in which the book is set.

“I was in love with the place [New York] and found all the different people and their different lives fascinating,” stated Browne, who revealed that she fell in love with New York when she first visited the city at age 15. She noted that her affection for the city as a melting pot of cultures grew with each return visit, and perhaps overflowed when she visited for the birth of grandchildren in recent years.

“New York has a lot of energy and it takes you by surprise. People like to say Miami is an extension of Kingston, but New York is where we are…it’s almost like it’s a part of us, if you know what I mean,” stated the Bronze Musgrave Medal-winning author,  whose stories are used in reading material in Jamaican schools.

In her address at the launch, Dorothy Noel, Publishing Manager of Carlong Publishers (Caribbean) Ltd. – publishers of the book, affirmed that “Island Princess in Brooklyn” provided a glorious opportunity for tweens to understand the reality of so many Jamaican children, once called barrel children, who experience the Big Apple

“They are torn between fitting into this world with all its surprises and unfamiliar culture and yearning at one stage to return to the home they have left behind. What a refreshing insight and important story to tell,” said Noel.

She emphasised the need for Jamaican children to hear the Jamaican voice in literature as part of their social and cultural development, and referenced the following quote from accomplished Jamaican children’s writer Hazel Campbell:

“Who are we (who should we be) writing for? My answer is — our own children. The rest of the world writes for theirs, who will write and illustrate for ours if not us?”

Hazel Campbell (left) and Diane Browne (right)

From left: Patricia Roberts, Director General of the Jamaica Library Service, Diane Browne, author of "Island Princess in Brooklyn", and Dorothy Noel, Publishing Manager of Carlong Publishers (Caribbean) Ltd.

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