The Book of Night Women
The Book of Night Women
Posted by Kori Solomon
February 05, 2012
The Book of Night Women - Marlon James
The Book of Night Women is set in Jamaica in the seventeen hundreds on a sugar plantation and pulls you into a story, firmly entrenched in our DNA by our ancestors. The Book of Night Women takes you on a journey in the lives of Lilith, born into slavery of a slave mother and the white overseer and a group of slave women who slowly and with great care, meticulously plan a slave revolt on the plantation on which they work. There is something about Lilith, a strength, a power that is apparent from birth and in time she is recruited by the group of women intent on bringing about sweeping changes of freedom, elevation from sub-human treatment and degradation at the hands of the whites. Lilith grows and learns and realizes the depth of her own dark rage when she brutally murdered several whites, as well as her desires and need for tenderness when she begins to feel real emotion for a white overseer. While this book is not the first novel to take on the subject of slavery, this one is different, because from the first page, you become immediately aware that you’re not so much reading as you are listening. The whole tone of the language, made me feel like I jus’ draw lang bench and settle down to LISTEN to a story that my granny telling me.
The strength of the story for me lies not so much in the actual storyline, but in the underlying nuances of incredible strength and resilience of black women. The lesson is obvious…that next to God, self preservation is the highest order. That through losing your identity, your voice, your freedom, there is a higher calling that demands that you go on. This book shows you that acquiescence and a docile nature doesn’t mean you’re weak, or necessarily broken. It shows you that if you push someone hard enough, eventually, they will push back. It shows you that when people feel that they have absolutely nothing left to lose, they are at their most dangerous. This book speaks to the things in humanity often overlooked because they’re ugly…that cruelty is infectious, that the strong will always use fear and pain to control. The storyteller doesn’t sugarcoat the descriptions of slaves being stripped naked and whipped until the skin literally comes off in sheets, while the massa and mistress watch from the balcony. This book will make you angry!!! It will bring you to tears and occasionally, it will make you buss out laughing. The narration is incredibly clinical in its delivery, but the underlying passion is unmistakable.
Mr Marlon James surprised me. Honestly, I expected just another generic black/white slave story, but this dude can write!! He takes you in so completely that while you read, you can actually see all the action from your perch out in the yard where it’s all happening. I was never bored. The story never seemed to lag. This is the kind of book that will mek yuh lose sleep or walk up into tings caw yuh jus cyaah seem to put it down. I’m ah level with you…I liked it; I liked it all. There was nothing that I disliked.