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“Caribbean Counterpoint: The Aesthetics of Salt in Lasana Sekou” by Sara Florian (right) is a new book on St. Maarten’s people, culture and historical landscape in literature. Photo courtesy Sara Florian.

 PHILIPSBURG--The USA booklist from California’s Small Press Distribution (SPD) includes a new book published in St. Maarten, Caribbean Counterpoint: The Aesthetics of Salt in Lasana Sekou by Sara Florian.

SPD recommends its top 20 books each month, mostly from independent presses in the United States. The selected titles are promoted nationwide to readers, book-buyers and libraries, said House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) president Jacqueline Sample.

“To have the book about St. Maarten’s people, culture and landscape in literature make the August list of ‘SPD Recommends’ is good news,” said Sample.

Caribbean Counterpoint could be a paradigm shift on seeing how salt production impacted St. Maarten people’s identity, culture and history. It plunges into the centrality of Great Salt Pond, said Sample.

“Sara’s book could be a first such study, or even a challenge,” that compares Caribbean-wide influences of salt to the related socio-economic and cultural symbolism of sugar that dominates in Caribbean studies, art forms and general knowledge,” said Sample.

“Sekou’s work also shares some features … with the Guyanese Martin Carter, the St. Lucian Kendel Hippolyte, the Grenadian Merle Collins and the Jamaican Joan Andrea Hutchinson,” wrote Florian. The work of other St. Maarten writers, artists and musicians is also discussed in the book.

In exploring “the writings of Lasana M. Sekou … Dr. Florian’s study delves deep into not only the poetry, but also into the fiction and essays of this politically committed, coolly confident, witty and lively writer and activist,” said German literary magazine Das Gedicht editor Anton G. Leitner.

In studying some 40 years of Sekou’s work, Florian critically compares aspects of the author’s “aesthetics of salt” and “marronage” to authors and artists such as Kamau Brathwaite, David Rudder, LeRoy Clarke and Édouard Glissant.

“Sara’s book is an insightful work of an engaged critic … putting her ear against the Caribbean and listening … to our poems, and to our stories, and to our novels, and looking at our art, listening to conversations between writers,” said award-winning Jamaican poet and novelist based in the United Kingdom Kei Miller.

Florian hails from Italy and currently lectures at National University of Singapore. She has studied at Université La Sorbonne and École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the research facilities of University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados.

Florian obtained her PhD in Modern Philology at Cà Foscari University in Venice, Italy. Her dissertation focused on contemporary and comparative Caribbean literature.

Caribbean Counterpoint was published by HNP in June, The 200-page book is on sale at Arnia’s bookstore, SoIL bookstore café in St. John’s, and Van Dorp bookstores in Madame Estate and Simpson Bay. The book is also available at SPDbooks.org for Internet orders.