The best books for not feeling like a dumb tourist on that trip to the Caribbean

Alejandra Bronfman Author Of On the Move: The Caribbean Since 1989
By Alejandra Bronfman

Who am I?

I have been doing research in the Caribbean for twenty-five years. The region is diverse and magnificent. Caribbean people have sought creative solutions for racial inequality, climate and sustainability, media literacy and information, women’s and family issues. The transnational connections with the US are complex and wide-ranging, and knowing more about this region is an urgent matter. My own work has focused on race and social science, mobility and inequality, and sound and media, all as ways of grappling with colonial legacies and their impact on the daily lives of people who live in this region. 


I wrote...

On the Move: The Caribbean Since 1989

By Alejandra Bronfman,

Book cover of On the Move: The Caribbean Since 1989

What is my book about?

This succinct book takes a broad view of the Caribbean, using the concept of mobility to tie everything together. Mobility has made the Caribbean a modern and dynamic place for centuries, but the book focuses on the more recent past with four case studies, on Haitian emigration and transnationalism, the Jamaican drug trade, Cuban tourism, and the internet everywhere. 

The books I picked & why

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A Small Place

By Jamaica Kincaid,

Book cover of A Small Place

Why this book?

Her withering critiques of tourists might make you mad if you’ve ever been one, but read until the end. While the book spares no one in its scathing view of Antigua’s colonial past and corrupt present, it is the evocative, precise prose and the insistence on a shared humanity that will remain with you long after the sting fades.

A Small Place

By Jamaica Kincaid,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Small Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER and ANNIE JOHN, a novel set in Antigua, where the idyllic tourist facade hides a colonial legacy of corruption, remedial social investment, and disenfranchised local culture. First published in 1988.

Limbo: A Novel about Jamaica

By Esther Figueroa,

Book cover of Limbo: A Novel about Jamaica

Why this book?

Who thought the devastation of the environment in the interest of mining and development would be a funny, lyrical love story? For Flora Smith, scientist and head of a small environmental NGO, her native Jamaica is filled with family, lovers, friends, and enemies. She is deeply connected to her surroundings and finds ways to immerse herself in the landscape, wildlife, human relationships, and embodied pleasure when all else fails. 

Limbo: A Novel about Jamaica

By Esther Figueroa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Limbo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Flora Smith, Jamaican scientist and head of tiny NGO Environment Now, dedicates her life to getting Jamaicans to care about the natural environment. At the opening of Limbo, Flora is confronted by the nagging reality of not having enough money to keep her organization afloat. When sand is stolen from a resort development owned by a wealthy donor, she becomes embroiled in corrupt politics, dirty money, and a murder. In Jamaica, the land of "No problem, mon," everything is known but off the record. Can Flora get anyone to be held accountable? Can she find solutions for any of Jamaica's…

Aerial Imagination in Cuba: Stories from Above the Rooftops

By Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, José Manuel Fernández Lavado (illustrator),

Book cover of Aerial Imagination in Cuba: Stories from Above the Rooftops

Why this book?

What happens when you shift your gaze to the sky? This ethnography of the Cuban sky finds surprising things there: cacti, pigeons, and the internet. The author of this beautifully illustrated ethno-fiction tells stories that make Cubans of today come alive in defiance of the usual clichés and stereotypes. 

Aerial Imagination in Cuba: Stories from Above the Rooftops

By Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, José Manuel Fernández Lavado (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aerial Imagination in Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Aerial Imagination in Cuba is a visual, ethnographic, sensorial, and poetic engagement with how Cubans imagine the sky as a medium that allows things to circulate. What do wi-fi antennas, cactuses, pigeons, lottery, and congas have in common? This book offers a series of illustrated ethno-fictional stories to explore various practices and beliefs that have seemingly nothing in common. But if you look at the sky, there is more than meets the eye. By discussing the natural, religious, and human-made visible and invisible aerial infrastructures-or systems of circulation-through short illustrated vignettes, Aerial Imagination in Cuba offers a highly creative way…


Brother, I'm Dying

By Edwidge Danticat,

Book cover of Brother, I'm Dying

Why this book?

The acclaimed Haitian novelist weaves her own memories of migrating to New York as a child with the heartbreaking story of her uncle, a Haitian pastor, and his encounter with the US immigration system in the Krome Detention Center in Florida. A series of misguided and often mystifying decisions lead to tragedy, not only for her and her family, but for all of us.

Brother, I'm Dying

By Edwidge Danticat,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Brother, I'm Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Beyond a Boundary

By C.L.R. James,

Book cover of Beyond a Boundary

Why this book?

James is a literary giant and a master of trenchant, insightful prose. Not only that, this memoir and meditation on about race, sports, and colonialism in his native Trinidad is still relevant today. No matter where you are going in the Caribbean, this book will help you understand it all a little better. 

Beyond a Boundary

By C.L.R. James,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Beyond a Boundary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This new edition of C. L. R. James's classic Beyond a Boundary celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of one of the greatest books on sport and culture ever written. Named one of the Top 50 Sports Books of All Time by Sports Illustrated "Beyond a Boundary ...should find its place on the team with Izaak Walton, Ivan Turgenev, A. J. Liebling, and Ernest Hemingway."-Derek Walcott, The New York Times Book Review "As a player, James the writer was able to see in cricket a metaphor for art and politics, the collective experience providing a focus for group effort and individual performance...[In]…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Caribbean, cricket, and Jamaica?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Caribbean, cricket, and Jamaica.

The Caribbean Explore 84 books about the Caribbean
Cricket Explore 12 books about cricket
Jamaica Explore 30 books about Jamaica

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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