General Presentation

Earl Lovelace was born in the village of Toco in Trinidad on 13 July 1935 and lived with his grandparents in Tobago until the age of 11, when he returned to his native island. Journalist, novelist, playwright and short-story writer, he amasses literary prizes. He wrote his first novel While Gods Are Falling while working as a forest warden and then as an agricultural technician, and it went on to win the British Petroleum Independence Award in 1965. He then travelled to the United States, where he completed his higher education at the prestigious Howard University (Washington DC) and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, going on to teach at a number of American universities and more than once being invited to be a writer-in-residence on American soil. Based in Trinidad since 1982, he is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of the West Indies (Saint Augustine campus) and columnist for such newspapers as the Trinidad Express. Literary critics consider The Dragon Can't Dance (1979) to be his finest masterpiece. Earl is known for his remarkable ability to describe Caribbean society from the inside, attaching great importance to popular language and its tonalities – its sociolinguistic aspects – in order to paint convincing portraits of Trinidadian society. He explores the divisions between the rural and urban worlds, and between tradition and modern life against a background of neo-colonialism. His most recent novel Is just a movie (2011) focuses on the impact the Black Power Revolution has on the lives of a series of characters in Port of Spain and the village of Cascadu. 

Select bibliography


  • Is Just a Movie. London: Faber & Faber, 2011.
  • Salt. London: Faber & Faber, 1996.
  • The Wine of Astonishment. Oxford: Heinemann, Caribbean Writers Series, 1982.
  • The Dragon Can't Dance. London: André Deutsch, 1979. (La Dance du Dragon. Translated by Hélène Devaux-Minié, collection Monde Noir Poche des éditions Hatier, 1984).
  • The Schoolmaster. London: Collins, 1968.
  • While Gods are Falling. London: Collins, Chicago, IL: Regnery, 1965.

Short stories

  • A Brief Conversion and Other Stories. Persea Books, 2003 (new edition).


  • Joebell and America. Lupinot Village, Trinidad, 1999.
  • The New Hardware Store. 1985.
  • Jestina's Calypso and Other Plays. Oxford: Heinemann, 1984.
  • My Name Is Village. Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1976.
  • Pierrot Ginnard (musical). Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1977.
  • The New Boss. 1962.
  • The Reign of Anancy. Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1989.


  • Growing in the Dark. Selected Essays, Edition Funso Aiyejina, Lexicon Trinidad, 2003.

Prizes and distinctions

1965: British Petroleum Independence Award, for his novel While Gods Are Falling

1966: Pegasus Literary Award, for his essential contribution to the Arts of Trinidad and Tobago

1977: Prize for best play and best music, for Pierrot Ginnard

1980: Guggenheim Fellowship

1985: “Most original play” award for Jestina’s Calypso at the Trinidad and Tobago Drama Festival.

1988: Chaconia Medal awarded by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago.

1997: Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Salt (as best work)

2002: Named Doctor Honoris Causa of Letters by the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago.

2011: Grand Prix de la Littérature Caribéenne awarded by the Guadeloupe Regional Council for his novel Is Just a Movie.

2012: OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (prestigious prize for literary works by Caribbean writers) for Is Just a Movie.

2012: Caribbean-Canadian Literary Award.

2012: Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad and Tobago National Library (NALIS).

@La Médiathèque Caraïbe

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