Jamaica

The Family Mansion

“Bringing history to life via the quixotic character of Hartley Fudges is an impressive enough feat, but it is Winkler's uncanny ability to add uproarious humor to this shameful history that sets The Family Mansion apart from the standard fare of historical fiction.

Winkler may be the best novelist you've never heard of with a brilliant, irreverent recasting of Europe's colonization of Jamaica. This lyrical and engaging novel transports readers to his native country’s sugar cane plantations in the tumultuous years before the abolition of slavery.

The Family Mansion tells the story of Hartley Fudges, whose personal destiny unfolds against the backdrop of 19th-century British culture, a time when English society was based upon the strictest subordination and stratification of the classes. Hartley's decision to migrate to Jamaica at the age of 23 seems sensible at first. But for all its fabulous wealth, Jamaica was a difficult and inhospitable place for an immigrant. The complex saga of Hartley's life is revealed in vivid scenes that depict the vicissitudes of 19th-century English and Jamaican societies.

‘The Family Mansion is written with the comic sensibility of Wodehouse and the insightful social comment of Orwell.’ -Midwest Book Review

‘Winkler's fiction magics the island into a place of rough-edged enchantment.’
-The Independent

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Augustown

“11 April 1982: a smell is coming down John Golding Road right alongside the boy-child, something attached to him, like a spirit but not quite. Ma Taffy is growing worried. She knows that something is going to happen. Something terrible is going to pour out into the world. But if she can hold it off for just a little bit longer, she will. So she asks a question that surprises herself even as she asks it, ‘Kaia, I ever tell you bout the flying preacherman?’

Set in the backlands of Jamaica,  Augustown is a magical and haunting novel of one woman’s struggle to rise above the brutal vicissitudes of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth.

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The Book of Night Women

“‘An undeniable success.’ — The New York Times Book Review

A true triumph of voice and storytelling, The Book of Night Women rings with both profound authenticity and a distinctly contemporary energy. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they- and she-will come to both revere and fear. The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been plotting a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age they see her as the key to their plans. But when she begins to understand her own feelings, desires, and identity, Lilith starts to push at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave woman, and risks becoming the conspiracy's weak link. But the real revelation of the book-the secret to the stirring imagery and insistent prose-is Marlon James himself, a young writer at once breath­takingly daring and wholly in command of his craft.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Ester Elbert for the suggestion.)

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A Brief History of Seven Killings

While a long read at 688 pages, it is the “winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, a recipient of the 2015 American Book Award, one of the Top 10 Books of 2014 as noted by The New York Times, & named best book of the year by a variety of publications.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumors abound regarding the assassins’ fates, and there are suspicions  that the attack was politically motivated.

A Brief History of Seven Killings delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. James deftly chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – gunmen, drug dealers, one-night stands, CIA agents,  even ghosts – over the course of thirty years as they roam the streets of 1970s Kingston, dominate the crack houses of 1980s New York, and ultimately reemerge into the radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Along the way, they learn that evil does indeed cast long shadows, that justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and that no one can truly escape his fate.”

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The Duppy

“‘Every country (if she’s lucky) gets the Mark Twain she deserves, and Winkler is ours, bristling with savage Jamaican wit’ -Marlon James
 
Being dead is most definitely an impediment to writing a book, under ordinary circumstances. But the narrator of this novel, Taddeus Augustus Baps, has turned into a duppy—a ghost renowned in Caribbean folklore—and he has a story to tell.
 
At first, he thinks that his new status as a spirit will provide some mischievous fun, but he’s in for disappointment. He gets whisked off to heaven—via minibus—where he meets not only God but some other interesting characters, and finds that the afterlife can be more irritating than one might expect . . .
 
This smart, rollicking, and ultimately uplifting tale is a delight from the prize-winning author of The Lunatic and other comic novels. As The Independent said of Anthony Winkler’s work, “It’s almost as if P. G. Wodehouse had strolled into the world of Bob Marley.’”

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Here Comes the Sun

“At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman – fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves – must confront long-hidden scars.

From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Neha Mehta for the suggestion.)

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