Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Fiction
Competition: Latin America & Caribbean
The inspiration for Robert Antoni’s writing is his long family history in Trinidad and Tobago, and his upbringing in the Bahamas. His fictional world is the British West Indies—the region’s characters, atmosphere, history, folklore, and above all its vernacular languages. It is informed by a pan-Caribbean consciousness of race, gender, religion, and class. Antoni is the author of three novels, Divina Trace, Blessed is the Fruit, and Carnival, as well as the short-story collection My Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales. His forthcoming historical novel, As Flies to Whatless Boys, charts his family’s emigration from England to Trinidad in 1845 as part of an experimental utopian society; its leader was the German inventor, J. A. Etzler, whose wind-and-water-powered machines would transform the tropical jungle into ordered and productive gardens. Antoni’s books have been translated into Spanish, French, Finnish, and Chinese. They have been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. His short fiction was selected as an Editor’s Choice, included in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, and chosen for the Aga Kahn Prize by the Paris Review. For the literary journal Conjunctions he edited Archipelago, an anthology of innovative writing from the Caribbean Diaspora. Antoni holds an M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He presently lives in Manhattan and teaches in the graduate writing program at The New School University.