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The Book of Night Women

From the Man Booker prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

Marlon James

Described by the New York Times as “both beautifully written and devastating”, The Book of Night Women is a startling, hard-edged dissection of slavery – a tour de force of voice and storytelling.
At the heart of the novel is the extraordinary character of Lilith, a spirited slave girl struggling to transcend the violence into which she is born, her story narrated in one of the boldest literary voices to grace the page. Overflowing with high drama and heartbreak, at its centre is the conspiracy of the Night Women, a clandestine council of fierce slave women plotting an island-wide revolt. Rebellions simmer, incidents of sadism and madness run rampant, and the tangled web of power relationships dramatically unravels amid dangerous secrets, unspoken jealousies, inhuman violence, and very human emotion.

  • Publication date: August 1, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781851687213
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 432


“With resonances of the eeriness of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and of the colonial inhumanity of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, James astutely meshes together a story which explores what freedom means and if it can ever really exist. Turning over The Book of Night Women’s final page, one feels a horrible and sobering sense of history’s nightmarish weight.”

"Marlon James's The Book of Night Women (Oneworld Publications) is one of those contemporary masterpieces that seems like it came out of the author's head, fait accompli. But of course it didn't. James is just a great writer, and he's conjured a complete and believable world – 18th-century Jamaica – and has got so deep inside his characters, most of them slaves on a sugar plantation, that the reading experience is immersive: any time you put the book down to, say, drive a car or get a sandwich, it's a shock. It pulls no punches, so be prepared to be knocked sideways."

"An epic novel of late-18th-century West Indian slavery, complete with all its carnage and brutishness, but one that, like a Toni Morrison novel, whispers rather than shouts its horrors."

"This is a book to love … hard to pick up, even harder to put down."

Boston Globe

"Darkly powerful"

The Plain Dealer

"Writing in the spirit of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker but in a style all his own ... an undeniable success."

The Globe and Mail

"An exquisite blend of form and content."

The New York Times

“I knew "The Book of Night Women" had me when I started waking at night to worry about its characters … [an] accomplished, terrifying … lacerating, literary work. It troubled and spent me, but I am grateful to him for it … It stands in the wake of Toni Morrison's transcendent slave literature, and it holds its own. … Sometimes we should read for comfort and bliss, and sometimes we should read for the sterner stuff that keeps us up at night.”

Washington Post

“Lilith makes even the steeliest hearts shiver with trepidation. … a devastating epic of savage history, relentless oppression, and souls that refuse to be shackled. … James is such a sure, humane writer … a searing read.”

Chicago Tribune

"this moving novel is a shocking read."

Time Out

"Brimming with drama and heartbreak"

The Literateur

“James’s powerful epic depicts the ugliness of colonial life and the violence, depravity and degradation which form part of the everyday.”

The Independent

Marlon James

Marlon James was born in Jamaica. He is the author of John Crow’s Devil (Oneworld, 2015), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and The Book of Night Women (Oneworld, 2009), which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction. His third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld 2014), won the Man Booker Prize in 2015, the American Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Fiction Prize, and was a finalist for the International Dublin Literary Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Esquire and Granta. He is currently the Writer-in-Residence and Associate Professor of English at Macalester College, Minnesota, USA.

Author page

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