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The Book of Jamaica Paperback – Apr 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st HarperPerennial Ed edition (April 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060977078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060977078
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 903,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

Visiting Jamaica, where he is confronted with the beauty, brutality, and social complexity of the island, the unnamed narrator struggles to come to grips with a series of events that frighten and confuse him.

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First Sentence
THIS PART OF MY STORY BEGINS one evening early in January 1976 in Anchovy, Jamaica, a country village clinging to the hills of St. James Parish about twelve miles south and west of Montego Bay. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 July 1999
Format: Paperback
An American writer comes to Jamaica with the idea of writing a book. At first he has to know Jamaica better and we accompany him as he discovers this exotic country. He meets many kinds of people from rastafarians to marrons to relatives of Eroll Flynn (The story with Eroll Flynn... incredible!). What a surprising country, unusual people and so an amazing book! A lesson? The writer will tell you it at the end. Hard to be a rich American!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
insightful, masterful 21 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I"m a Jamaican-American who recently returned to Jamaica to live. I saw the book on a remainder table. It's amazing. It captures many essential truths about Jamaican culture and class conflicts during a pivotal time in its history (the 70's), plus it's beautifully and lovingly written. Sometimes the "outsider" perspective gives us important truths, and this is a prime example. If you're at all interested in Jamaica, this is a must read.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
One of Russell Bank's very best efforts! 30 Aug. 2000
By Dr Lawrence Hauser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The plot of this early Bank's novel revolves around a vacation to the seductive island of Jamaica by a college professor and his wife. They rent a home with patio and swimming pool on the outskirts of Port Antonio. Servants come on each day to cook and clean. The couple is protected from the turbulence of the island's cultural and political life by a fence made of both wire and social class (not to mention race). But the professor, the narrator of this tale, soon finds himself enjoying the company of the locals; in particular a young Rastafarian who has plenty of powerful Jamaican ganja he is very willing to share. Sure enough, before too much time has elapsed, the professor is smoking all the day long and providing transportation in his rental car to a small group of Marroons and Rastas that stay locally for short periods of time but live up in the mountains where they have their marijuana fields and live in villages with their families.
There are several trips back to the island after the narrator's life is completely transformed by his experiences during the first. His wife no longer accompanies him however as their marraige was one of the first casualities of his abrupt new fascination with Rastfarianism, Marroon culture, and ganja. You can imagine! But what starts out as an adventure full of promise, unfortunately follows an inevitable course ending in sorrow and not a little horror. Any attempt to blithely transcend differences of race and class are doomed, the author seems to be saying. And ganja will not of its own power make a story turn out all right, regardless of it's enormous capacity to create an internal state that seems to be mystically protected from all outward harm. In fact the opposite may be true. Ganja may release traits and fuel decisions that create a trend which rushes towards confrontation with dis-associated, unwanted self-aspects and a pressing need to re-assess one's relationship with the basics of self-preservation and the will to continue living.
This is a compelling, well-written novel that has the advantage of having marijuana as one of its central characters. The role marijuana plays in the story and in fueling the psychological development of the protaganist is handled skillfully and raises interesting questions about what effect heavy use may have on the trajectory of one's life. As a Jamaican travelogue, the book will spellbind as it is really a tour de force of gritty observational writing. Banks obviously harbours a deep love for Jamaica and a well-earned respect for the raw power of Jah Rastafari as expereinced through the taking of his sacremental offering; the holy herb ganja.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Little Known book about my Home Country 2 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Forget all the Guides to Jamaica. If you really want to know how an American might feel living in my country, where "no problem" is the national password, yet a country full of problems, read this little known--at least in Jamaica--book. It captures the undertow of violence as well as the beauty of the place, giving a most realitic and compelling description, albeit in fictional form. You will want to read this book before taking a short or long visit. Though Russell Bank's experience won't be yours, that is, unless you choose to stay.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
crazy, amazing, surprising... 31 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An American writer comes to Jamaica with the idea of writing a book. At first he has to know Jamaica better and we accompany him as he discovers this exotic country. He meets many kinds of people from rastafarians to marrons to relatives of Eroll Flynn (The story with Eroll Flynn... incredible!). What a surprising country, unusual people and so an amazing book! A lesson? The writer will tell you it at the end. Hard to be a rich American!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent! 23 Sept. 2005
By rocksteady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I spent a fair amount of time doing business in Kingston Jamaica in the late 1980s, travelling there about a dozen times in five year period, and my work led me to various places on the island. Even though it was written by an outsider, I have read very few books that really captured the feeling of the place and the people in the way that "The Book of Jamaica" did. I wonder how much of the central character, the American writer, was based on Banks himself?

I loved the atmosphere and plotline of the book, and Banks conveys much of Jamaican culture with great insight and skill. However it was hard for me not to despise the main character, a neurotic American writer who neglects his family to hang out with his fascinating, "exotic" Jamaican friends. An American trying to beat Jamaicans at rum drinking and dominoes is pure foolishness! But it rings true as something a typical American visitor would try to do. Eventually as the central character becomes more involved with the real Jamaica and the lives of his new friends, he gets a lot more than he bargains for. A book well worth reading.
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