[Caribbean Literature]

A Brief Biography of Erna Brodber

David P. Lichtenstein '99, Brown University, Contributing Editor, Caribbean Web

Born April 20, 1940 in Woodside, St. Mary, Jamaica, Erna Brodber grew up the daughter of a family acitve in the community affairs of their small town. She immersed herself in academia perhaps more than most other Caribbean authors, gaining a B.A. from the University College of the West Indies (now simply University of the West Indies) and ultimately attaining an M.Sc and Ph.D. She pursued many other professions before focusing on writing, including the posts of civil servant, teacher, sociology lecturer, and fellow/staff member of the Institute for Social and Economic Research in Mona, Jamaica. While at the ISER Brodber worked to collect the oral histories of elders in rural Jamaica, a project that would later inspire her novel Louisiana.

While studying as a young woman in the United States, Brodber encountered two powerful forces she had not previously been exposed to: the Black Power and Women's Liberation movements. Coupled with her early familial indoctrination to the importance of community, these social concerns formed a background for her interest in social research and seeking out those who possess untold stories. Her novels too deal with the healing power of the community. Female protagonists struggle both to understand the past, in the form of the historical lineage they possess, and the present, in terms of their own ambiguous roles in the community. But successes in these quests for understanding allow acceptance into a unified if diverse community. Not surprising given her interest in the larger social world, the need to accept diversity and link seemingly opposing groups (white and black, rich and poor) commonly appears in Brodber's work.


Contemporary Authors. Edited by Donna Olendorf. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994, volume 143.

[Caribbean] [Erna Brodber] Works