Caribbean Ghostwriting addresses a question central to the fields of postcolonial, feminist, and African diasporic studies: how are we to know the colonial past when the lives of colonized and enslaved people were largely written out of history? Caribbean authors Michelle Cliff, Maryse Conde, and Dionne Brand address the silences and gaps of historiography by fleshing out overlooked historical figures in literary form. These authors do not simply reconstruct lost lives, but rather they foreground the tension between the real, material traces of people's lives and the fact of their erasure. In novels that are at once historical, biographical, and artistic, they portray real but sparsely documented and therefore haunting histories through a strategy identifiable as "ghostwriting." Erica L. Johnson defines ghostwriting as an important genre of Caribbean literature through which authors literally ghostwrite stories for lost historical figures even while they poetically preserve the unspeakable nature of the archival lacunae their novels engage. Erica L. Johnson teaches world literature at Wagner College.
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