IMPORTANT WRITER: Sam Selvon

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Sam Selvon collection placed in Memory of the World register

The Memory of the World Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (MOWLAC) has inscribed the collection of the late Trinidad and Tobago author Sam Selvon, housed at the Alma Jordan Library of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, on the regional Memory of the World register.

The "Sam Selvon Collection" was nominated by the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for Unesco's Memory of the World Committee.

The nomination was accepted during the regional meeting of MOWLAC, hosted by Trinidad and Tobago in October, where the main item on the agenda was the assessment of 13 nominations of regional documentary heritage collections for possible inscription on the Regional Memory of the World Register, a news release from Unesco said yesterday.

The Sam Selvon Collection spans the period 1948-1985 and consists of manuscripts of Selvon's published works—poems, plays, short stories, articles and non-fiction. It also contains correspondence and manuscripts of many unpublished items.

The collection is significant to the region as it provides documentary evidence of the work of an important writer who contributed to the development of Caribbean literature.

In the renowned trilogy Lonely Londoners, Moses Ascending, and Moses Migrating, Selvon captures class struggles, and the sociological and psychological experiences of the West Indian immigrant in Britain in the 1950s.

His novels including A Brighter Sun, have been on the syllabi of the Caribbean Examination Council and the reading lists of several universities.

Unesco established the Memory of the World (MOW) programme 20 years ago, following a growing awareness of the inadequate preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage (eg, books, manuscripts, drawings, maps, films, etc) in various parts of the world.

The MOW programme recognises and maintains registers of documentary heritage of international, regional and national significance.

Trinidad and Tobago has the second largest number of collections on the international register from the Latin America and the Caribbean region, a total of six: the Derek Walcott Collection, the Eric Williams Collection, the CLR James Collection, the Registry of Slaves of the British Caribbean (1817-1834), the Constantine Collection, and the Records of the Indian Indentured Labourers of Trinidad and Tobago (1845-1917).

These collections are housed at the National Library, the National Archives and at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

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