In The Book of Jamaica Russell Banks
explores the complexities of political life in the Caribbean and its
ever-present racial conflicts. His narrator, a thirty-five-year-old college
professor from New Hampshire, goes to Jamaica to write a novel and soon becomes
embroiled in the struggles between whites and blacks. He is especially
interested in an ancient tribe called the Maroons, descendants of the Ashanti,
who had been enslaved by the Spanish and then fought the British in a
Despite this history of oppression, the Maroons have managed
to maintain a relatively autonomous existence in Jamaica. Partly out of guilt
and an intellectual sense of social responsibility, Banks’ narrator gets
involved in reuniting two clans who have been feuding for generations.
Unfortunately, his attempt ends in disaster, and the narrator must deal with
his feelings of alienation, isolation, and failure.
Download and start listening now!