Celeste Mohammed speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Home,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Celeste talks about her novel-in-stories, Pleasantview, and why it was important to her to write a book that shows all the complexities and difficulties of island life, with characters who break out of the stereotypical West Indian personality Americans often expect. She also discusses Trinidad’s multicultural society, her choice to write dialogue in patois, and her essay “Split Me in Two,” about being mixed-race during the election of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Kimberley didn’t know that her estranged father, Mr. H, cloth magnate, up-and-coming politician, had been shot. While he was in Trinidad, sliding from the leather backseat to become a heap on the floor of his car, she was still in self-imposed exile in Barbados, her tongue traveling down the ripples of her “roommate” Rachel’s sculpted stomach.
Without italics, you might be tempted to think that’s a typo or just bad copyediting; that I mean to say she “is married to a douglas.” But, on the off chance you are of West Indian heritage, you know exactly what I mean. You know dougla is a real word and you know it means the new Vice President of the United States of America is half-Indian and half-black.