Caribbean Chemistry: Tales from St Kitts

Christopher Vanier


"Charming and vividly evocative... I feel as if I have got to know these islands, and almost to have been there. A loving, gentle, light-hearted but informative portrayal of island life, and of a young boy’s dreams and aspirations."

Helena Drysdale, author of Strangerland

"This fascinating narrative could be read as a Bildungsroman with the Caribbean sunshine in its heart. Vanier shares moments of his people's life with warmth and generosity."

Amir Taheri, author of The Persian Night

"Ah, to be an embryo again!" Chris Vanier's story begins where we all begin: conception. This delightful piece of life writing, set on the Caribbean island of St Kitts, recalls the mischief of Vanier's childhood: sneaking out to the cinema after school hours, throwing stones at a passing car, disastrous experiments involving various acids and a rocket. Is this boy lost in the plain sailing of childhood or can he turn his curiosity into Caribbean Chemistry? This is a story of self-discovery, told candidly in language rich enough to eat: "Breadfruit, breadnut, bamboo, lignum vitae, marouba, weedee, and calabash."

Funny and engaging - a story about breaking the barriers of identity and finding them again. A rare view of the emigrants tale.

Key features/publicity

  • Evocative voices capture the 40s and 50s, the different cultural and linguistic heritages, and the relationship with the British Isles
  • Review coverage in TLS/LRB, First Person: The Guardian, Life-Writing Magazine, Zing (Caribbean Airline magazine), Ebony Radio: Afternoon Reading BBC radio 4

Author info

Christopher Vanier retired from engineering to write. He has read at the British Institute of Paris and The American Library of Paris.

In 2006 he was awarded first prize at the annual WICE Paris Writers' Workshop. In the same year he won a fellowship to the Summer Literary Seminar in Kenya.

Caribbean Chemistry: Tales from St Kitts

Publication details

  • Publication date: Winter 2009
  • Format: Paperback
  • Size: Demi
  • Price: £12.99
  • Extent: 416pp
  • ISBN: 978-1-899999-45-3
  • Categories: Life-writing/memoir, Caribbean-interest