The Book of Night WomenBook |
A powerhouse of a novel.
Written in a percolating patois that describes even the most gruesome details in a lyrically compelling style, Jamaican-born Marlon James' The Book Of Night Women boldly updates the tradition of the slave narrative. At the center of the book is Lilith, a half-white slave girl born of a rape on a Jamaican sugar plantation. Essentially orphaned, she is quickly adopted by Homer, the head house slave who sees in Lilith a source of great power which she needs to fulfill her plans for rebellion. As Lilith is pulled into Homer's scheme, she is simultaneously singled out for the ambiguous yet strangely sincere affections of Robert Quinn, an Irish overseer who condemns the brutality of slavery while never hesitating to enforce its codes. As this densely multilayered book steadily builds toward its blistering climax, James plunges into the twisted psychological complexities of the master and slave relationship—what sustains it and what becomes too much for it to bear. Plot developments of the book's ending strain credulity a bit, yet the tour de force of James' voice sweeps aside any objections. The Book of Night Women is a powerhouse of a novel which establishes James as a major talent.