Diana McCaulay is an award winning Jamaican writer and a lifelong resident of its capital city Kingston. She has written two novels, Dog-Heart (March 2010) and Huracan (July 2012), published by Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom. Both novels met with critical acclaim and have broken 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). Huracan is now shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize 2014.
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 does explain 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 will be in US bookstores in October 2012.
Ian Thomson, author of The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica, describes Huracan as follows: “Diana McCaulay has captured the bright tropic warmth, the violence and beauty of her birthplace like a born storyteller”.
Diana has recently a third novel, The Dolphin Catchers, built on her eponymous 2012 Regional Commonwealth prizewinning short story, which was published by Granta Online. The Dolphin Catchers 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.
In April 2014, Diana won the Hollick Arvon Prize for a non fiction work in progress, and is working on her fourth book entitled Loving Jamaica: A memoir of place and (not) belonging.
Diana founded the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) in 1991 and still serves as its CEO and guiding force. In that position, she has interacted with all levels of Jamaican society from the Prime Minister and cabinet officials to rural Jamaicans displaced by development and fishers denied access to beaches. Diana’s writing contains an authenticity and vibrancy derived from her active participation at so many levels of Jamaican society. She was a popular newspaper columnist for The Gleaner (1994-2001) and a collection of her columns was published in September 2012 under the title Writing Jamaica: People, Places, Struggles. Her short fiction has been published by 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.