Award winning actor, author, and educator, Andrene Bonner makes the 9th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival a stop on her unusual book tour. She presents her first novel, Olympic Gardens and pay tribute to one of her mentors, the Honorable Rex Nettleford at the popular food fest on Sunday, November 14, 2010.
Olympic Gardens tells the story of a young Jamaican boy, Roderick Brissett who was abandoned in Montego Bay by his white American father and later banished to Kingston by his Jamaican mother. He was relegated to a life of servitude and denied an education. It was within the abyss of such harsh realities that he had to seek some semblance of joy to help him to survive, grow, and find his place in the world. Ironically, the Olympic Gardens story, a trilogy, parallels the life story of the esteemed Nettleford. Like Roderick, who was mentored by Mr. Goodman, Rex Nettleford was mentored by great men and women in Jamaica and would himself become a “good man” that most have come to know.
The book received the 2009 Lorna Goodison Caribbean Award for Transformative Literature at the Tamarind Festival of Caribbean Literature. Mary Hanna of The Jamaica Observer had this to say about the book: “Olympic Gardens is a powerful evocation of the life of an unwanted child. Bonner has anchored her narrative to the island with asides and full episodes that are Jamaican in nature… records the creole speech of Roderick with panache, not missing a beat or lyrical nuance. She writes with a keen eye for telling events that underscore Roderick’s predicament… has an eye and an ear for the telling details of island life. Literacy is a key issue in this first novel.”
Bonner, accomplished in a wide cross section of the performing arts, attended Merl Grove High School, the esteemed Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. She got her feet wet in theatre under the guidance of the great Trevor Rhone, and now, as an educator, creates this same nurturing environment for her students in the New York Public School system. Bonner has performed the range on a very vibrant theatre scene, building her considerable experience in Caribbean theatre. She has gotten rave reviews for her work in classic plays, among them Antigone, Lysistrata, Macbeth, Oedipus, For Colored Girls but is no less recognized for her performances in plays by the Caribbean’s master playwrights, Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl and Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain, as well as several productions by Dennis Scott and Trevor Rhone. Always fascinated with breaking down the veils in story-telling, she has turned her attention to putting stories on the page, as well as, directing. She has published in Kapu-Sens: California State University Northridge Literary Journal, Carib Press News Magazine, Café Africana Journal, The Caribbean Writer, and has several manuscripts in production.
Ms. Bonner will also appear at a special launch at the South Regional Broward County Library on Monday, November 15, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Friends of South Region-BC Library. She holds a Master of Science in Education with Distinction, Master of Arts in Language and Literacy, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Dance with an Option in Acting and Directing.