Erna Brodber

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Erna Brodber
Erna Brodber.jpg
Born (1940-04-20) 20 April 1940 (age 82)
EducationUniversity College of the West Indies
Occupation(s)Novelist, sociologist, social activist
Notable workJane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home (1980); Myal (1988)
RelativesVelma Pollard (sister)

Erna Brodber (born 20 April 1940) is a Jamaican writer, sociologist and social activist.[1] She is the sister of writer Velma Pollard.


Born in the farming village of Woodside, Saint Mary Parish, Jamaica, she gained a B.A. from the University College of the West Indies, followed by an MSc and PhD, and has received a predoctoral fellowship in psychiatric anthropology. She subsequently worked as a civil servant, teacher, sociology lecturer, and researcher at the Institute for Social and Economic Research in the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica.[1] During Brodber's time working at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies, she collected several oral histories of elderly people's lives in rural Jamaica, which inspired her novel, Louisiana. After working at the university, she left to work full-time in her home community of Woodside.[2]

She is the author of five novels: Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home (1980), Myal (1988), Louisiana (1994), The Rainmaker's Mistake[3] (2007), and Nothing's Mat (2014). Brodber works as a freelance writer, researcher and lecturer in Jamaica. She has received many awards, including the Gold Musgrave medal three times: once from the Institute of Jamaica for work in literature, once from the government of Jamaica for community work, and once from the government of the Netherlands for work in literature and orature[4] Brodber is currently Writer in Residence at the University of the West Indies.


Brodber--trained as a sociologist with a Ph.D. and several publications on Jamaican society--emphasizes non-western forms of understanding in her fiction, deconstructing the historical methodologies of colonialist knowledge. She works to challenge western ways of ordering the world, and to resurrect myth and tradition as a form of historical rehabilitation from the psychic damage of slavery and colonialism. She weaves fantastical, non-realist elements with traditional modes of story-telling--emphasizing both as crucial to the psychic make-up of her characters and the world around them. [5]

Awards and honours[edit]

She won the Caribbean and Canadian regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1989 for Myal.[citation needed] In 1999 she received the Jamaican Musgrave Gold Award for Literature and Orature.[6] She received a Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in 2017.[7]



  • Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home (New Beacon Books, 1980)
  • Myal: A Novel (New Beacon Books, 1988), ISBN 978-0901241863
  • Louisiana (New Beacon Books, 1994)
  • The Rainmaker's Mistake (New Beacon Books, 2007), ISBN 978-1873201206
  • Nothing's Mat (University of West Indies Press, 2014), ISBN 978-9766404949[9]


  • The People of my Jamaican Village, 1817 - 1948 (Blackspace, 1999), ISBN 9789764101321
  • Woodside, Pear Tree Grove P.O. (University of the West Indies Press, 2004), ISBN 978-9766401528
  • The Second Generation of Freemen in Jamaica, 1907–1944 (University Press of Florida, 2004), ISBN 978-0-8130-2759-3
  • The Continent of Black Consciousness: On the History of the African Diaspora from Slavery to the Present Day (New Beacon Books, 2003), ISBN 978-1-873201-17-6
  • Moments of Cooperation and Incorporation: African American and African Jamaican Connections, 1782-1996 (The University of West Indies Press, 2019), ISBN 978-976-640-708-7


  • Ratoon: a New Jamaica (2015). Performed by the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, School of Drama, directed by Carolyn Allen.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b Lichtenstein, David P. "A Brief Biography of Erna Brodber". Literature of the Caribbean. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  2. ^ Samuel, Petal, "Erna Brodber and Pan-Africanism in Post-Independence Jamaica", Black Perspectives, AAIHS, 12 October 2016.
  3. ^ Paul, Annie, "Black rain", Caribbean Review of Books, February 2008.
  4. ^ Broder, Erna, Myal. Waveland Press, Inc., 2014.
  5. ^ "Erna Brodber |". Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Erna Brodber", The Spaces between Words - Conversations with Writers.
  7. ^ Cummings, Mike (1 March 2017). "Yale awards eight writers $165,000 Windham-Campbell Prizes". YaleNews. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  8. ^ Lichtenstein, David P. "Erna Brodber: Works". Literature of the Caribbean. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  9. ^ Nothing’s Mat page Archived 27 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine at University of the West Indies Press.
  10. ^ "Ratoon interrogates J'can society". 20 October 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Rex's sense of community, Ratoon's approach". 23 October 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2021.

External links[edit]