Diego Martin, Trinidad, West Indies
September 1, 1928
Imamu Jones Series
Rosa Cuthbert Guy describes herself as primarily a storyteller. “I hope that young people of today are like I was yesterday in reading tastes,” she said in Horn Book Magazine. “I have always liked interesting books with exciting characters, held together by invisible but well-conceived plots. And I always wanted to believe, when putting down a book, that my time had not been wasted in pure enjoyment and that I had learned something more than I knew before I picked it up. I wanted to know about people, places, and those things that had not drawn my attention before.”
“Rosa Guy is a Black American writer who has been described as 'the creator of some of the most memorable adolescent characters in modern literature,'” Books for Keeps stated. “Her stories are hardhitting and compellingly realistic, with a powerful message for young people. She demonstrates a deep understanding and sympathy for young people and the many difficulties they face growing up or purely surviving today.”
The strong storytelling tradition of Trinidad, West Indies, the British colony where Guy was born, greatly influenced her writings. She came to the United States in 1932 when her parents settled in Harlem. When their mother became ill, Guy and her older sister, Ameze, went to live with cousins who were followers of Marcus Garvey, leader of a back-to-Africa movement. Their influence, she later said, is seen in her human rights activism and her love of language.
After Guy and her sister were orphaned, Guy quit school to work in a garment factory and care for Ameze, who had become ill.