Right after the release of Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women (Penguin Group, Feb. 2009), I wrote a review under the pen name jewhl, on Barnes & Noble.com. It’s been named “Most Helpful Review” at B&N.com. 🙂
If you are looking for an easy read and mindless entertainment, do not pick up this book. If, however, you are looking for something off-beat, poetic and substantial, this is a book for you. James absolutely delivers in his “The Book of Night Women.” The Jamaican dialect is lyrical – and, for anyone unfamiliar with this musical form of the English language – demands attention and concentration. Prosaic, and at the same time poetic, James’ novel focuses a microscope on the life of Lilith, a mulatto girl with green eyes born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the 18th century. The frequent slave revolts that were an almost perpetual way of life for slave and master provide a backdrop to this tale, as do the ever-present superstitions brought from Africa that permeated life on the plantations. This is a story of despair, sorrow, hope and triumph. Highly recommended!