belize city
Photo of Belize City by scaturchio used under a Creative Commons license.

Charles Portis, The Dog of the South (Overlook, 1999).
When Ray Midge finds that his wife has run off with his friend in his Grand Torino, he takes the man’s car and drives south after them.  This chase takes him from Little Rock to the British Honduras, now better known as Arkansas, as he searches for answers.  Portis is a comic genius who writes like no one else, this overlooked masterpiece is worth reading wherever you are.  I’ve tagged it under Arkansas because Portis is one of that state’s top writers, and Belize because that’s where Midge ends up.

Here is Wikipedia’s Portis page. Alex T. Moore’s Unofficial Charles Portis Website has an impressive wealth of information.  Vered Kleinberger of Emory University also created a great Portis website.  Scott McLemee appreciates Portis. So does Ed Park, in The Believer. Mark Garvey has an excerpt. Scott McLemee has a couple. Ron Rosenbaum (New York Observer), a big fan, was thrilled. Walter Clemons (Newsweek) says reading it is like being held down and tickled. Patrick Kurp laughed out loud. Benjamin Lytal (New York Sun) says it’s hilarious. Joseph McLellan (Book World) says if it weren’t so darned funny, it would be tragedy. Charles Michaud (Library Journal) calls it a wildly funny book. Roy Blount, Jr., says no one should die without reading it. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (New York Times) liked it, I think. Greg Purcell recommends it. So does Dylan Hicks. CL says you need it. Earlier this year it was optioned. In 2001, Roy Reed interviewed Portis

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Image by marcia.furman used under a Creative Commons license.

Zee Edgell, Beka Lamb (Heinemann, 1986).
National Geographic Traveler

Awarded the Fawcett Society Book Prize as the first novel by a Belizean writer to reach an international audience, Beka Lamb details a few months in the life of 12-year-old Beka, a thoughtful yet mischievous girl coming of age in colonial, multiethnic Belize. The melodious creole voices of many of the book’s characters charge to the surface in this atmospheric and very accessible novel about everyday life among the cays of Belize.

Here are a bio on Edgell’s website and Wikipedia’s page about her. Google Book Search has an excerpt and other resources. Bernardine Evaristo interviewed Edgell in 2003 for BOMB magazine. A year later, interviewed her. Katie Horan wrote this review. Liam didn’t particularly care for it (scroll down). Here is a recommendation and other recommended Belize reading, and here is another such list.
Nicholas has the novel’s opening line here, and nine other first lines from Caribbean novels. Cristen L. Garner writes about Edgell and other Caribbean women writers.

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