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BIOGRAPHIES M-O

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  • Patrick Manning
  • Rabindranath Maharaj
  • Stephen Carpoondeo Maharaj
  • Owen Charles Mathurin
  • Shani Mootoo (Author)
  • Wendell Mottley
  • Balkrishna Naipaul
  • Shiva Naipaul
  • Vidiadhar Naipaul
  • Marlene Nourbese Philip
  • Elizabeth Nunez
  • James O’Neil Lewis

PATRICK MANNING
The information on this page is currently under review. In the interim please refer to the following websites:

RABINDRANATH MAHARAJ
Maharaj, born in 1955 in Trinidad, has been a Writer in Residence at the Toronto Reference Library, a mentor for young writers with Diaspora Dialogues, and more recently an instructor with both the Humber School for Writers and the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

His 1995 novel, The Interloper, was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. In 2005, his novel A Perfect Pledge was a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize finalist and winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The Amazing Absorbing Boy, his most recent novel, received the 2010 Trillium Book Award and the 2011 Toronto Book Award.

STEPHEN CARPOONDEO MAHARAJ
Stephen Maharaj was born in 1916. He married Pearl with whom he had 2 children, Clement and Rawle. He was a Member of the Legislative Council and Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago from 1950-1966.

He was a member of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and became Leader of the Opposition in the absence ofDr. Rudranath Capildeo. In 1965, he was a founding member of the Workers and Farmers Party (WFP) with C.L.R. James, George Weekes and a young Basdeo Panday. One of his greatest political achievements was being selected as one of the advisers to the Opposition delegates to the Independence Conference in London in 1962.

He was also a qualified pharmacist and operated a prominent pharmacy in the Princes Town area up to two years before his death. He died on April 28th 1984.


Source: “Stephen Maharaj the politician”. Trinidad Express 13 May 1984

OWEN CHARLES MATHURIN

Owen Mathurin was born in St. Lucia where he was a well known writer, journalist and bibliophile. He immigrated to Trinidad in 1935 where he continued his career as a journalist.

He attended the Trinidad and Tobago Independence Conference in 1962 and was an unofficial political advisor. He then worked in the Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago as Director of Public Relations
He co-wrote and published the biography: “Henry Sylvester Williams and the Origins of the Pan-African Movement, 1869-1911. (Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies: Contemporary Black Poets)”, which was published in 1976.

In 1977 he received the Hummingbird (Gold) Award for journalism. He died in 1992.


Source:

  • Neptune, Harvey R.; Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation; United States of America; The University of North Carolina Press; 2007; Print
  • Heritage Library Division, National Library and Information Systems Authority

SHANI MOOTOO
Mootoo moved from Trinidad to Canada at the age of 19, where she began a career as a visual artist. She has had exhibitions in the U.S and Canada, and her videos have been shown at a number of film festivals. Mootoo has served as Writer in Residence at the University of Alberta, the University of Guelph and the University of the West Indies.

Her first full length novel, Cereus Blooms at Night, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 1997, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize,  and the Chapters Books in Canada First Novel Award. It was also long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.He Drown She in the Sea, published in 2005, also earned acclamation making the long list for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2007. Valmiki's Daughter was long-listed for the 2009 Giller Prize. Mootoo’s poetry and short stories have also received critical acclaim.  

WENDELL MOTTLEY (Athletics)
Wendell Mottley was born on July 2, 1941, and enjoyed an athletic career from 1958 to 1967.

In 1958, he won the Under-17 100 yards in a record time of 10.1 seconds at the Queen's Royal College Sports.

In 1959, he was the Victor Ludorum at the same sports meet, with victories in the 100, 220, 440 and 880 yards.

In 1960 he went on to Yale University where he eventually obtained a BA degree in Economics.

In 1964 he established world marks in the following indoor events; 400 yards (48.0); 550 yards (55.5) and 600 (1.09.2).

The successful indoor season served him in good stead as he went on to win a silver medal in the 400 metres and bronze in the 4x400 metres relay at he Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, later that year.

In 1966, Mottley took part in his only Commonwealth Games and won gold medals in the 440 yards and the 4x440 yards on the world-record-establishing relay team.

See more information on Trinidad and Tobago's Olympic medalists

BALKRISHNA NAIPAUL
Naipaul is a former Permanent Representative of Development Educators for World Peace at the United Nations. Since 1998, he has devoted his time to writing fiction. Following the publication of his first three novels, Naipaul was awarded the prestigious title of Saahitya Mani from the Shikshayatan Institute of America for his contributions to world literature. In 2006, he was selected by the World Business Forum to receive their most lucrative award for “his outstanding contributions to literature and successful achievement as a World Renowned Author of Books, and for his Invaluable Services to the Canadian/Caribbean community as one of the founding leaders.”

In 2010, Naipaul was awarded The Shabdakantih Order of Literature from the Shabdakantih Awards Academy in New York for his two novels set in Trinidad, The Other Side of the House and The Mansion. In 2012, he was recognized with an Indo-Caribbean Council Award, New York, for his literary contributions to the Indo-Caribbean community. In the same year, he received a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award.  

SHIVADHAR SRIVINASA (SHIVA) NAIPAUL
Naipaul, the younger brother of Sir Vidya Naipaul, emigrated to Britain after winning a scholarship to University College, Oxford. Naipaul’s first novel Fireflies (1970) won several awards, including the Jock Campbell New Statesman Award, The John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize and the Winifred Holtby Prize. His second novel, The Chip-Chip Gatherers, received the 1973 Whitbread Literary Award. Naipaul published two other novels, as well as several books of short stories and non-fiction, before his death at the relatively young age of 40.

After his death, The Spectator Magazine, which had published many of his articles, established the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. Naipaul was posthumously awarded a NALIS Lifetime Literary Achievement Award in 2012.

VIDIADHAR SURAJPRASAD NAIPAUL: AUTHOR
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was born in Chaguanas,Trinidad, in a family descended from immigrants from the north of India. His grandfather worked on a sugar cane plantation and his father was a journalist and writer, while his uncle Rudranath Capildeo was a noted scientist and politician.

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul studied at Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain where he won a scholarship to the University College at Oxford. At the age of 18 Naipaul travelled to England where, after studying at University College, Oxford, he was awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953. From then on he continued to live in England (since the 70s in Wiltshire, close to Stonehenge) but he has also spent a great deal of time travelling in Asia, Africa and America. Apart from a few years in the middle of the 1950s, when he was employed by the BBC as a free-lance journalist, he has devoted himself entirely to his writing.

Naipaul's works consist mainly of novels and short stories, but also include some documentary work. He was, to a very high degree, a cosmopolitan writer, a fact that he himself considered to stem from his lack of roots: he was unhappy about the cultural and spiritual poverty of Trinidad, he felt alienated from India, and in England he was incapable of relating to and identifying with the traditional values of what was once a colonial power.

The events in his earliest books take place in the West Indies. A few years after the publication of his first work, The Mystic Masseur (1957), came what is considered by many to be one of his most outstanding novels, A House for Mr. Biswas (1961), in which the protagonist is modelled on the author's father.

After the success of A House for Mr. Biswas, Naipaul extended the geographical and social perspective of his writing to describe, with increasing pessimism, the deleterious impact of colonialism and emerging nationalism on the third world. This is depicted in Guerrillas (1975) and A Bend in the River (1979), the latter being a portrayal of Africa that has been compared to Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

In his travel books and his documentary works, he presents his impressions of the country of his ancestors, India, as in A Million Mutinies Now (1990), and also critical assessments of Muslim fundamentalism in non-Arab countries such as Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan in Among the Believers (1981) and Beyond Belief (1998).

The novels The Enigma of Arrival (1987) and A Way in the World (1994) are to a great extent autobiographical. In The Enigma of Arrival he describes how a landed estate in southern England and its proprietor, with a colonial background and afflicted by a degenerative disease, gradually decline before finally perishing. A Way in the World, which is a cross between fiction, memoirs and history, consists of nine independent but thematically linked narratives in which Caribbean and Indian traditions are blended with the culture encountered by the author when he moved to England at the age of 18.

V.S. Naipaul has been awarded a number of literary accolades, including the Booker Prize in 1971, the T.S. Elliot Award for Creative Writing in 1986 and the Trinity Cross in 1989. He was an honorary doctor of St. Andrew's College and Columbia University, and of the Universities of Cambridge, London and Oxford. In 1990 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth of England. In 2001 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for which he had been shortlisted since the 70's. In 2012, Naipaul was awarded a NALIS Lifetime Literary Achievement Award.

MARLENE NOURBESE PHILIP
Nourbese Philip is a poet, writer and lawyer who was born in Tobago and currently lives in the Toronto, Canada. Her short stories, essays and reviews have appeared in magazines and journals in North America and England. In 1988 she was the first prize winner of the Tradewinds Collective prize in both the poetry and the short story categories. Her book of poems, She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, was awarded the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize for Literature in 1998.  In 1989, her novel Harriet’s Daughter was the runner up for both the Canadian Library Association Prize for Children’s Literature and The Max and Greta Abel Award for Multicultural Literature. 

Nourbese Philip has received several fellowships in poetry, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Foundation Residency. In 1995 she was awarded a Toronto Arts Award in writing and publishing. In 2012, Nourbese Philip received a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award.

ELIZABETH NUNEZ

Elizabeth Nunez received her Ph.D. and MA degrees in English from New York University, and her BA degree in English from Marian College in Wisconsin. She joined the faculty at Medgar Evers College in its second year, in 1972, and helped design, develop and implement many of the college's first major academic programs. Until August 2009, Dr. Nunez was Provost and Senior Vice President of the College. She has held the title of CUNY Distinguished Professor since 1999, the only faculty in the college to achieve this rank and recognition. She is currently CUNY Distinguished Professor at Hunter College.

Considered a master teacher within the City University of New York, Dr. Nunez was profiled by the CUNY campaign study with the Best on TV spots and on posters on New York City buses and subways.  Prior to her appointment as Provost and Senior Vice President, Dr. Nunez was Chairperson of the Humanities Division, Chairperson of the Department of Literature, Languages, Communication Skills and Philosophy, Chairperson of the English Department, Chairperson of the college's Core Curriculum Committee, and Director of the college's Honors Program.  She was a member of the City University's Task Force on Pluralism and Diversity, the Committee on the Improvement of Teaching and Faculty Development in the University, and the Consultative Committee for University Honorary Degrees. 

Dr. Nunez has been an evaluator for national, state and local programs in the United States, including the Division of Public Programs for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Literary Awards, the United Negro College Fund, the Middle States Accreditation office, the Upward Bound Program and the PSC/CUNY Research Awards. She served on a national committee commissioned by President Clinton to review the goals and activities of the Public Programs Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and was a member of the White House Roundtable on Women's Initiatives and Outreach.

In 1986, she co-founded the National Black Writers Conference with the celebrated author John Oliver Killens.  After Killens’s death in 1987, she directed the conference for eighteen years.  She secured grants for the conference from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Reed Foundation and worked in collaboration with a number of cultural institutions/programs, including the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, QBR: The Black Book Review, the Joseph Papp Public Theater, PEN American Center, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Cave Canem, the New Renaissance Guild, the Harlem Writers Guild, and CUNY-TV.  The conferences have attracted thousands of attendees and a roster of stellar award-winning scholars and writers, including Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Derek Walcott, Arnold Rampersad, George Lamming, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Edgar Wideman, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Walter Mosley, Amiri Baraka, and Terry McMillan. 

Dr. Nunez is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels.  Her most recent novel Borders was published in 2011. Her previous novel Anna In-Between was released in September 2009.  The novel received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal and was given a laudable review in the New York Times (9/6/09) and selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice.  Her other novels include When Rocks Dance, Beyond the Limbo Silence, Bruised Hibiscus, Discretion, Grace and Prospero’s Daughter.  Prospero's Daughter was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, the 2006 Florida Center for the Literary Arts One Book, One Community selection, and the 2006 Novel of the Year for Black Issues Book Review.  Discretion was short-listed for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Bruised Hibiscus won the 2001 American Book Award and Beyond the Limbo Silence was awarded the 1999 Independent Publishers Book Award in the multi-cultural category.  

Dr. Nunez’s novels are the subjects of masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations.  They are taught at several universities, including the colleges of the City University of New York, the University of Miami, Tennessee State University, Ryerson University in Toronto, SUNY Binghamton and the University of the West Indies.  Scholars have written several literary monographs based on her work which have been published in scholarly journals and in chapters of books on Caribbean literature. In addition to her fiction, Dr. Nunez is co-editor with Jennifer Sparrow of the anthology Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad, and co-editor with Brenda Greene of the collection of essays, Defining Ourselves: Black Writers in the 90s.  She is also the author of several monographs on literary criticism published in major scholarly journals.

Dr. Nunez is a former fellow of the prestigious Yaddo and MacDowell artist colonies and the Paden Institute.  She served on the Board of Trustees of the PEN American Center for several years and chaired the PEN Open Book Committee, advocating for writers of color. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of both Marian University in Wisconsin and CUNY TV.  She serves on the Advisory Board of PEN American Center.  Dr. Nunez is executive producer of the CUNY TV series Black Writers in America, hosted by Ossie Davis, which was nominated for a 2004 New York Emmy Award.  She served as a jurist for literary awards, including the Mercantile Sargent Fiction Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. 

In addition to literary awards, Dr. Nunez is the recipient of awards for her work as an educator and cultural activist, including the Carlos Lezama Archives & Caribbean Cultural Center, the Caribbean American Heritage Award from the Institute of Caribbean Studies for Outstanding Contributions to Literature; Building a Better Future through Education Award from the Office of the Suffolk County Executive; the Trinidad and Tobago Independence (TATIC) Anhauser Bush Award; two US State Department Speaker and Specialist Grants, one for the Eastern Caribbean and the other for Spain; the Educator of the Year Award from the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy; a Trinidad and Tobago Alliance Award for Outstanding Contributions to Literature; the Sojourner Truth Award from the National Association of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the Carter G. Woodson Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, and the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award.  

In 1999, Dr. Nunez was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters by her alma mater, Marian College, for her contributions to the arts and education.  In 2007, she was inducted into the Hall of Excellence of St. Joseph’s Convent Secondary School in Trinidad. In 2012, she was awarded a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award. 

Dr. Nunez is a frequent keynote speaker at national and international literary and academic conferences. She gives several readings of her work each year across the country. Her audiobooks include Discretion (Recorded Books, 2003), Grace and Prospero’s Daughter (BBC/ America, 2003) and Anna In-Between (Audible Books, 2010).

JAMES O'NEIL LEWIS
James “Scottie” O’Neil Lewis was born on 4th August 1919.  He married Jeanne née Winter and fathered six children. He received his early education at Richmond Boys E.C. School and later went to Queen’s Royal College (QRC) for his secondary education. He pursued his tertiary education at London University and Oxford University where he attained Bachelors of Commerce and Letters respectively. In 1980, he gained a doctorate from the University of Amsterdam.

Dr. O’Neil Lewis had a professional career as a journalist with the Trinidad Guardian until 1950 when he migrated to England to pursue his studies. Upon his return to Trinidad and Tobago, he worked with the government service in various positions. He served as Ambassador to Belgium and the European Economic Commission 1973-1983 and Ambassador to the United States of America 1983-1987.

He worked along with many national and regional agencies notably the Organization of American States (OAS), CARICOM, and in Trinidad and Tobago, the Integrity Commission, National Service Committee, 1990 Detention Review Tribunal for the coup detainees, Airports Authority, and the Industrial Court. In 1997, he received an honourary doctorate from The University of the West Indies.

He passed away in 2010.


Source:

  • www.mainlib.uwi.tt/divisions/wi/collsp/summaries/jamesoneil.htm