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Erna Brodber Presents Something Big With 'Nothing's Mat'

Dr, Erna Brodber author of Nothing's Mat

Nothing’s Mat, the newest novel from the pen of Dr. Erna Brodber recently made its debut. Dr. Brodber’s reading revealed a novel that might be slight in size but seems to be offering up weighty in its content. The launch took place at the University of the West Indies at a lively launch staged through the combined efforts of the Department of Literatures in English, the UWI Press, and the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies. 

Dr. Brodber revealed that having a launch hosted by the department of Literature has been a goal of hers for the past four years. She also remarked that she had also aspired to having a performance by  Rosina Moder and Friends included in the launch. This was achieved on both counts, with probably a little bonus, as Joel Ashbourne, one of the evening’s musicians and Brodber’s former student, treated her to the song ‘Kiting’ which had been inspired by her.

Dr. Brodber laughingly remarked that it was the first song that had been written for her, and she hoped it would be the first of many.

Dahlia Harris and Erna Brodber at the launch of Nothing's MatIndeed, Dr. Michael Bucknor chair of the event and head of the department of literature, in introducing the performance also spoke about the multiple ways in which Brodber’s work had proved inspiring.

“Creativity inspiring creativity is at the core of what writers do,” Bucknor said.

Despite its title, Nothing’s Mat seemed to have be quite something, and owes its inspiration to family and an interest in African history. 

“The ‘Nothing’ in Nothing’s Mat takes me into my family archives,” Dr. Brodber explained. She went on to point out that it was a combination of family and a growing fascination with fractals and its relationship with African knowledge systems. 

Brodber read two delightful sections from the novel. Both readings revealed an engaging sense of humour, riveting characters and the keen social insight that has become a hallmark of Brodber’s fiction. Joel Ashbourne pays tribute to Erna Brodber with 'Kiting'

Nothing’s Mat is published by the UWI Press which only recently started publishing literature. Linda Speth, general manager of UWI Press explained that Nothing’s Mat was actually on the press’ fourth fiction title. 

In her introduction to the book, Dahlia Harris, who delivered the evening’s main address, had high praise for the work. Harris remarks that not only does Nothing’s Mat contain a gripping plot, but the book is also relevant and relatable.

Harris explained that the novel contains a story of families, family history and role of secrets. Remarking that in Jamaica, spilling secrets is equated with spilling tea, she said that in Nothing’s Mat, Brodber had spilled the highest calibre tea.

“Erna Brodber spills not just ordinary tea but real Jamaican bwile it down, steam it and scald your lips chocolate tea,” Harris said. “Dr. Erna Brodber, you good bad.”

Erna Brodber is the author of several novels and essays. Her works include Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home, Myal, and Louisiana

Nothing’s Mat was launched in the Multifunctional Room at the main library, the UWI, Mona, on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.