Garth St. Omer Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

By 2002, Roland E. Garth St. Omer Bush had written three short novels and two novellas concerned with the existentialist despair of young men who do not see much of a future for themselves on the island of their birth. These works were written about St. Omer’s native Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Like many of his protagonists, St. Omer, who is of African descent, was born in St. Lucia when the island was still a British colony. Because he guards his privacy, nothing is publicly known about his parents. His cousin, Dunstan St. Omer, has been active in Caribbean theater. Dunstan, like Garth, is a friend of St. Lucia’s most famous writer, the 1992 Nobel Prize laureate Derek Walcott.{$S[A]Bush, Roland E. Garth St. Omer;St. Omer, Garth}

Growing up on St. Lucia, Garth St. Omer attended St. Mary’s College and studied with Father Charles Jesse, a prolific writer and publisher of St. Lucian history and poetry. For young men like St. Omer, the priest served as a crucial mentor. He even appears in fictionalized form in St. Omer’s first novel, playing chess with the protagonist.

After graduating from St. Mary’s College in 1949, St. Omer taught for seven years at Caribbean high schools. By 1956, he had enrolled at the University College of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. He graduated in 1959 with honors in French and Spanish. From 1959 to 1961, St. Omer taught English in French high schools. Reconnecting with his African roots, St. Omer...

(The entire section is 541 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Campbell, Elaine. “The Third Wave of St. Lucian Literature.” In Studies in Commonwealth Literature, edited by Eckhard Breitinger and Reinhard Sander. Tübingen, Germany: Günter Narr, 1985. Places St. Omer in the context of other St. Lucian writers of his generation, most notably Derek Walcott.

Cousins, Jacqueline. “Symbol and Metaphor in the Early Fiction of Garth St. Omer.” Journal of West Indian Literature 3, no. 2 (September, 1989): 20-37. Perceptive study of St. Omer’s use of existentialist material.

Dunwoodie, Peter. “Images of Self-Awareness in Garth St. Omer’s J——, Black Bam, and the Masqueraders.” Caribbean Quarterly 29 (June, 1983): 30-43. Contrasts the view of the two brothers in this book.

Gilkes, Michael. “Garth St. Omer.” In The West Indian Novel. Boston: Twayne, 1981. Discusses the life and work of St. Omer. Useful, comprehensive survey.

Kaye, Jacqueline. “Anonymity and Subjectivism in the Novels of Garth St. Omer.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 10 (August, 1975): 45-52. Critical analysis of St. Omer’s existentialist philosophy, which has shaped all his published fiction. Faults the writer for a lack of objectivity regarding his characters.

King, Bruce. “Garth St. Omer: From Disorder to Order.” Commonwealth Essays and Studies 3 (1977/1978): 55-67. King sees a move toward maturation and greater concern for others in St. Omer’s development of his male protagonists.

Thieme, John. “Double Identity in the Novels of Garth St. Omer.” Ariel 8 (July, 1977): 81-97. Praises J——, Black Bam, and the Masqueraders as his best work because the brothers, Peter and Paul, fully function as doubles.

Williams, David. “Mixing Memory and Desire: St. Omer’s Nor Any Country.” Journal of West Indian Literature 2 (October, 1988): 36-41. Analysis of the protagonist’s relationship with his memory.