Brooklyn-based publisher Akashic Books is behind many of the most notable Caribbean-themed books of the last few years. This year, the company has brought its Caribbean focus to the fore, honing in one of the world’s most overlooked regions for literature.
Among its releases in the last few months are the Ziggy Marley-penned children’s story I Love You, Too; Haiti Noir 2, a (second) Haiti-themed edition of the publisher’s flagship Noir short story series; Game World, a fantasy-adventure story for kids based around Jamaican mythology written by JA-born, Wall Street Journal editor Christopher John Farley; and Pepperpot, an anthology of Caribbean writers which marks the launch of Akashic’s new Peekash imprint with U.K.-based publisher, Peepal Tree Press. Other notable books in the Akashic catalog include John Crow’s Devil, the debut novel by noted Jamaican writer Marlon James; and Kingston Noir, the Jamaican installment in the aforementioned Noir series, edited by LargeUp contributor Colin Channer.
The company’s newest release, Go De Rass to Sleep, is one of its ost intriguing. A Jamaicanization of Adam Mansbach’s best-selling “bedtime story for adults” Go The F*** to Sleep, it is the first commercial book title to be translated into Jamaican patois. We sat down with Akashic founder Johnny Temple to find out how an indie imprint founded by an indie rock musician from Washington D.C. (Temple, the long-time bassist for DC’s Girls Against Boys, worked at RAS Records as a teen and roadied for Eek-A-Mouse) became a driving force behind Caribbean literature’s growing international profile.