Njelle “Njara” Hamilton

Lance Cleland

Njelle “Njara” Hamilton is a Jamaican singer, songwriter, storyteller, and scholar. She is the author of Phonographic Memories: Popular Music and the Contemporary Caribbean Novel and numerous essays on contemporary Caribbean literary and cultural studies. A 2023 Oxbelly Writers’ Retreat Fellow in Fiction, Njara is pursuing an MFA in Writing at Pacific University. Her short fiction has appeared in Centripetal and Pree Caribbean. She is currently working on a memoir about her Jamaican girlhood, a nonfiction book about Caribbean time travel novels, and a novel tentatively titled “Everything Irie.” Project Description: The summer after graduation, Irie (21) and Iowa (17), from rivaling factions of a prominent Jamaican family, are packing to follow in Auntie Rissa’s footsteps. While Rissa escaped their stifling, dead-end rural town and became an international pop star, her twin, Mari, became a byword, a warning of failed womanhood. But Rissa’s surprise visit and a looming hurricane cause the cousins to question the family narratives that pit Indian against African, and sister against sister. Can Irie and Iowa avoid the traps of the previous generations—losing their voice, betraying fragile but vital sisterhoods? In this novel about the power of storytelling, I&I must see past their inherited prejudices to tell a new story, not one-sided gossip, but a collaborative version that might heal the breach between the two halves of the House of Maragh. Because as they discover, stories can either kill or cure.