Self-published in 2017, Oh Happy Day is a debut collection of short stories written by Trinidadian author, Michelle Ragoonanan-Ali.
Oh Happy Day features many popular Trinidadian traditions, customs, and language and spans the length and breadth of the island, from Sea Lots to Siparia, Mayaro to Talparo.
In general, the stories deal with the struggles and adventures of young Trinidadians from working-class families. Their themes range from young love, yearnings for parental care and affection, rising above social circumstances, getting lost or stranded, and making moral choices.
In the preface, Ragoonanan-Ali mentions being inspired by Ways of Sunlight, a well-known collection of short stories by Trinidadian author, Sam Selvon.
This inspiration is clearly reflected in the close-knit communities featured in her work as well as the author’s use of dialogue peppered with Trinidadian Creole English rather than Standard English. This is a joy for native speakers to read but may take some adjusting on the part of international readers not accustomed to the Trini tongue.
If you’re an expat Trini and haven’t been home in a while, these stories may provoke an intense sense of nostalgia for the birthplace you remembered. Many of the stories also have neat endings so you’re bound to feel a sense of completion at the end.
Have you read Oh Happy Day? What did you think?
Photos courtesy Michelle Ragoonanan-Ali