Published Work

Review:  Drinkers, Drummers, and Decent Folk

“The stories that make up the body of the text are engrossing and charming at the same time. Stewart is obviously a talented writer of fiction, among the best of contemporary Caribbean writers who have produced a very rich semi-ethnographic corpus on cultural experience in their homelands.  The special interest of Stewart’s work for anthropologists is that he legitimates ethnographic fiction as a form of doing ethnography in a very persuasive and sophisticated way.  He raises such issues himself with great elegance in his last chapter, and he appropriately places his work squarely in the context of the contemporary debate about the nature of the ethnography.”

– George E. Marcus, Rice University.


Review:  Project Colorful Skin

“I read much of Project Colorful Skin on the plan home, then finished it here.  I was very impressed – what a big story!  I really liked Phyllis though not her taste in men!  I was totally convinced by the
world you created and really like the ‘merge’ of past present and future.  A brilliant idea to have the slave selling.  I liked the different voices and narratives – the ‘Environmental Noise’ etc.  I feel the novel is quite prophetic – you didn’t know about ‘bird flu’ and the related drug scandals when you wrote this.  I also thought it had links to the review I read of The Constant Gardner although I’ve not see the movie yet.  Well done!"

– Jenny Green, London, England 


Reviews:  Last Cool Days

"Last Cool Days is more of an epic or dramatic poem than a novel in the naturalistic tradition.  There are many long passages of anonymous dialogue having the function of dramatic choruses, collective abstract voices rather than identified individuals speaking – voices from a batch of convicts herded together in a corridor of Carrera prison while a storm rages about the rock; old men assembled in a rum-shop pronouncing on the war and slavery and Marcus Garvey; a chorus of villagers gathered under the hanging body of a young suicide.  And from beginning to end, the language is acutely poetic." 

–  Merle Hodge 

“John Stewart draws a painful and all too credible picture of the... injustice endured by the black community...”

 – The Times Literary Supplement 

“It is the way in which Stewart tells the story that makes it both gripping and thought provoking... It is the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ that we need to know before Marcus’ time runs out.”

– Trinidad Guardian 


Review:  Looking for Josephine

“Looking for Josephine is poetry, prose and history told with the beauty, the sensitivity and the feeling typical of the West Indian novel that is no longer written.”

– The Toronto Review 

"In these stories it is possible to trace a cooling of rage through time, though time has raged on...There is a lot unsaid, and it is in this that their beauty lies. "The Old Men Used to Dance," offers a key to the interpretation of this book.  There is a bittersweet sense of loss at work here, a recognition that 'times change, things change, people change, all in time becomes the jettison of a drama taking place somewhere else.' Stewart asks us in this collection to consider the shape of those changes.

"Trinidad is revealed through the subtle, almost dreamlike vision of the returning native."

– Simon Marriott, Trinidad Guardian

Review:  Truth Lies In-Between

“On the road to something different . . . John Tchicai and John Stewart’s Truth Lies In-Between, a 12-track hybrid of genres (Jazz through Techno), energies, and ideas.  The stand out track of Truth is “Masks.” Beginning with techno-sounded bellows, the collaboration explores the hip-hop sentiment with an apt conundrum. ‘He does not fit well . . . too big, too short, too wide, too low, too high, too narrow,’ observes Tchicai/Stewart, signifying on the biblical-inspired spiritual to tell a tale of a real man in deficit, denial, reflection and decision.  The title track extends the metaphor moving the listener into the truth of Truth: ‘[it] lies in-between: the mother of all recipes through which we seek and perceive each other then, at last, ourselves.’”

Angelo A. Williams 


Review:  Curving Road

“Related through characters and events and held together by a very strong and articulate sense and demonstration of contemporary black experience, Curving Road has the great strength of a single viewpoint and a deep honesty.  The writing is first rate, highly skilled.  And the sense of places—Iowa, Los Angeles, San Francisco—is wonderfully evocative.  I’ve read a great many stories dealing with the black experience in America, and these are among the finest that I have experienced.”

George Garrett, author of Death of the Fox.