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Marlon James Books In Order

Publication Order of Dark Star Books

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

John Crow's Devil (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Book of Night Women (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Marlon James is a Jamaican fiction writer best known for his three books A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), The Book of Night Women (2009) and John Crow’s Devil (2005). He was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. Marlon’s mother served in the police department, and his father was a lawyer. In 1991, he graduated from University of West Indies but later escaped Jamaica to avoid economic conditions and homophobic violence which he felt would affect his career. In 2006, Marlon James graduated from Wilkes University with a master’s degree in creative writing.

Marlon James has taught creative writing and English at Macalester College. His first book John Crow’s Devil before being accepted for publication was rejected 70 times. The book tells about the biblical struggle in a remote village in Jamaica in 1957. His second book, The Book of Night women, talks about a slave woman’s revolt in the early 19th century in a plantation in Jamaica. A Brief History of Sevens Killings tells the story of Jamaican history and years of political instability through the perspectives of different narrators. The book won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature award in 2015 and the Man Booker Prize for fiction category.

John Crow’s Devil

John Crow’s Devil is Marlon James’s wonderful debut book that tells the tale of a biblical struggle in a small rural village Jamaican village named Gibeah. The author reveals his special narrative command that establishes his place as today’s most gifted young authors. In Gibeah village, some women fly, and some men hide secrets of their lives, magic exists in religion, and evil and good are not as they appear to be. John Crow’s Devil is a fascinating book exploring the destruction and downfall of an isolated remote war between two preachers. The book tells the story of a man named Hector Bligh (the “Rum preacher”) a drunkard and who’s lost his way is pulled out of his church by a man named “apostle” York, a fire- and -a brimstone preacher who has plans to purify this village. What follows next is a war between “good” and “evil”, church versus magic. York was prepared to bring the Old Testament judgment to the village of Gibeah.

While the fire and brimstone are the main focus of this novel, it is based in the classical spirit world of Jamaica. Marlon James conflates the two traditions true to the history of the Caribbean and this makes reading enjoyable and brings a sense of taboo and exoticism in the Old Testament. A destroyed village is all that is left. James describes how this isolated village can quickly be taken over by a man who promises to turn on each other and save them.

In John Crow’s Devil, the author examines postcolonial Jamaica through a religious battle between good and evil. The characters portrayed in the book represent the different facets of humanity.

The Book of Night Women

In his second book, James tells the story of a character named Lilith born at the end of the eighteenth century into slavery in a sugar plantation in Jamaica. When she was born women slaves around her recognized a dark power that they will all come to fear and revere

The night women have long been planning a slave revolt and as Lilith grows she reveals the extent of her power and they view her as the key to their plans. However, when she starts to understand her desires, feelings and identity, she begins to push at the edges of the life as a slave girl. Lilith’s story continues with heartbreak and high drama. Life on the plantation has inhuman violence, unspoken jealousies, dangerous secrets and very human feeling among slaves themselves, between overseer and slave and between master and slave.

One of the excitement about The Book of the Night Women is how impressive this coming of age theme is, showing the terrifying effects of slavery in a way we’ve never seen before. It’s known how hard it is being a teenage girl dealing with mood swings, growing pains of puberty, self-discovery, sexual awakening and the need to be a woman and be independent. All this is occurring when the only world known to you is that of total lack of positive influence and freedom and complete oppression. How would a girl deal with being treated with kindness when all she knows is being handled with violence? How do you deal with the already confusing issue of being a mixed race at a time when skin color explains everything? It’s embarrassing and unsettling and ultimately engaging to see how Lilith grew from a girl to self-aware woman. The concept of growing as a slave is something that no one has done; showing the terrifying effect of slavery is a unique way never seen before. The story is more of a feminist with only a couple of main male characters and no primary male slave. Strong women in the whole colony do the whole revolt plan. They don’t include men since they don’t believe that men have the brain power to handle this. Its women who are strong, packing the muskets and machetes, calling the shots and obeah spells and it feels genuine.

Themes in Marlon’s novels range from colonialism, violence, religion and supernatural to sexuality. In the book The Book of Night Women, Marlon challenges the ancient slave story by presenting Lilith (the protagonist) who approaches her enslavement with complex dualism, despite the description of antagonism between masters and slaves in the Jamaican plantation. She dislikes masters, but the book mostly deals with how she aspires to get a privilege within the plantation by giving to the sexual subjugation of a white overseer, Robert Quinn.

Additionally, the book explains what it is to be a woman, with several characters having deep connections to Myal spiritualism and Obeah. The female slaves are shown to be intelligent and strong-willed, while the male slaves are shown to be traitorous, weak and thoughtless. Murder, rape, torture and other dehumanizing acts dominate the narrative. The book points out the antagonistic and explosive relationship between colonizers and colonized

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