Anthony Winkler is one of Jamaica’s funniest and most gifted writers. Two of his stories have been made into films: His original screenplay The Annihilation of Fish was filmed in 1999, starring James Earl Jones, Lynn Redgrave, and Margot Kidder. The Lunatic (1987), a satirical novel many consider his most famous work, was also made into a film (1991). Its main character is Aloysius, a mad man from the country who speaks to trees and animals. His life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Inga, a sex-crazed German tourist.
Winkler’s first novel, The Painted Canoe (1984), took several years to complete, and it was more than ten years before he found a publisher. His other works include Going Home to Teach (1995), an autobiographical account of his experiences during the 1970s at a school in Moneague, a rural Jamaican town; The Annihilation of Fish and Other Stories (2004); and the novels The Great Yacht Race (1992), The Duppy (1997), Dog War (2006), and, most recently, Crocodile (2009). He lives in Atlanta, and this interview took place for a delightful couple of hours by telephone in April of this year.
Barrington Salmon: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Anthony Winkler: I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was born. I wrote my first short story for Wednesday Magazine in 1958. It was a compulsion. I had to write and I wanted to leave a legacy. I had a cousin, Eddie Zaidie, who gave me a ride and reminded me that I had told him that one of these days he’d read my books, and it happened. It took a long time to get there. Things would happen to put me on the right path. (more…)