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Book Title: Book of Jamaica|
The author of the book: Russell Banks
Date of issue: November 26th 2013
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 3.87 MB
Edition: Harper Perennial
Read full description of the books Book of Jamaica:Russell Banks' The Book of Jamaica is a strange and mesmerizing mixture of fact and fiction. Set in the 1970s, a decade after Jamaica's independence from Great Britain, it is the story of conflicting cultures and one man's journey to understand where similarities lay and where differences abide. He is on a mission to research the Maroons of Jamaica, descendants of ex-slaves who ran away from their owners in the late 17th century, fought the British for decades, and won immunity and land of their own, so long as they stayed out of the way of the governing Brits. But his research soon widens to the variety of relationships that exist on the island, including the uneasy alliance between Maroons and Rastafarians, the economic power struggle between white landowners and newly empowered Black Jamaicans, the shifting balance between corrupt policemen and equally corrupt celebrities, and his own personal relationships with his wife, with other women, with his white landlord, and with the Black Jamaicans with whom he becomes enthralled.
Our narrator is a man running away from himself and looking for answers about how to live his life, although he himself doesn't acknowledge either truth about himself. He proclaims, "At this time of my life I, like most Americans, believed more in the essential sameness among people than in their difference. I thought I could learn to know what it was like to be a Maroon. I could not then see any conflict between that belief and my ambition to replace a point of view with a vision." Danger hinted at, but not understood, until it is too late.
He finds much to admire in the lives of the Black Jamaicans he meets ("Survival, to me, was something one took for granted, and therefore it was more than likely that , placed in similar circumstances, I would not survive") and much to disdain in the lifestyle of the whites ("with their fashion designer gowns and jackets, their cut-crystal cocktail glasses, their parquet floors and real estate holdings"). Instead of finding himself through rejecting the White culture and trying to align himself with the underclass' ways of understanding life, the narrator loses his grip on his own reality and fails to understand much at all. His efforts to repair an old rift between Maroon sects leads to tragedy and his attempts to live on precepts of simplicity lead to complications beyond his imagination.
Worst of all, he loses himself completely by the end of the novel: the first person telling of his story shifts into a second person addressing him as "you" and then into a third person narration about "Johnny", which is not even his real name but a name given to him by Black Jamaicans, a generic name given for a "good American." Good he may be, but lost he becomes, lost and bloodied and alone, and sent packing back to America.
The Book of Jamaica is a chilling allegory about an infant nation fighting to become independent not only in name but in fact, and about a fractured man struggling to become whole. Both country and man balance precariously between fact and fiction, between what they know is true and what they wish for, between what they want and what they fear, and between dream and nightmare. It's a fine line between finding your true self, who and what you were meant to be, and losing yourself -- your soul -- forever.
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Read information about the authorRussell Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplitter, The Sweet Hereafter, and Affliction. The latter two novels were each made into feature films in 1997.
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