Written by Chantel DaCosta

Caribbean Writers – Robert Antoni– The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago


“The bottle was big and obzockee. I was having a hard time toting it. It was the day before my thirteenth birthday, seventy-seven years ago: tomorrow I will be ninety years of age. I am still a practising physician, and as I sit here in this library, at this desk of my father’s, of my father’s father — lugged as a trunk of purpleheart wood by six Warrahoon Indians out of the misty jungles of Venezuela, floated down the Orinoco and towed across the Caribbean behind three rowing pirogues, my grandfather calling the cadence stroke by stroke in a language nearly forgotten… ”

From Divina Trace, novel by Robert Antoni, 1991

Birth Name: Robert Antoni

Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Born: 7 May 1958

Robert Antoni is the author of five novels, and his short stories have been published in several collections and literary magazines.  He was born in the United States to Trinidadian parents and grew up in the Bahamas, where his father practised medicine. His writings are inspired by his family histories in Trinidad and his childhood in The Bahamas. His fictional world is the British West Indies, wherein the region’s history, folklore, and language are prominently featured. Antoni spent 10 years writing his first novel, Divina Trace, a Caribbean magical realism saga. The novel won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for best first novel.


Antoni holds an MA from Johns Hopkins University, and an MFA and a PhD from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is a former Associate Professor of creative writing and Caribbean literature at the University of Miami, where he served as Associate Director of the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute. He lives in Manhattan and teaches in the graduate writing programme at The New School University.

Noted Works:


  • Divina Trace, Quartet Books, 1991
  • Blessed is the Fruit, Henry Holt, 1997
  • My Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales, Faber & Faber, 2000
  • Carnival, Grove Press, 2005
  • As Flies to Whatless Boys, Akashic Books, 2013

Accolades and Awards:

1992: Commonwealth Writers Prize, Canada and Caribbean First Book Winner

1992: Commonwealth Writers Prize, Overall First Book Winner for Divina Trace

1999: The Paris Review’s Aga Kahn Prize for Fiction

2010: Named Guggenheim Fellow, for As Flies to Whatless Boys

2012: NAILS Lifetime Literary Award, Trinidad and Tobago National Library


Sources: Robert Antoni author website, Peepal Tree Press, Goodreads, Bomb magazine, and New School University.


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