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John Crow's Devil

by Marlon James

Debuts eBooks of the Month Modern and Contemporary Fiction Sharing Diverse Voices Spine-Chilling Fiction

LoveReading View on John Crow's Devil

An often uncomfortable, overwhelming, yet impressively compelling read. ‘John Crow’s Devil’ originally published in 2005, is the debut novel of Marlon James, Man Booker prize winner for ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’. Apparently James’ debut was rejected 78 times before being published, and personally I had my doubts as I began to read, and yet, and yet… the further I read, the more I felt myself being consumed by this penetrating and provocative novel. Two men, two preachers, battle each other, two women choose sides, while the rest of the village follow the stronger man. An anonymous village voice occasionally comes to the fore, narrating, telling, explaining, speaking with a Jamaican dialect, sometimes using unknown words that somehow make themselves understood. The story weaves between the village voice, clearly, firmly setting the story in stone, yet unexpected words will make you stop and think in a sentence previously flowing like water. With images that burst into your minds eye, be prepared to be moved, perturbed and to feel your heart break, yet wonder at the power of this profound novel. 

Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers.

Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Liz Robinson

John Crow's Devil Synopsis

Jamaica, 1957 On a day beginning with a bad omen - black vultures, known locally as John Crows, crash through the local church windows - a handsome and charismatic stranger drags the village preacher from his pulpit and takes over both church and congregation. Promising vengeance and damnation, he wastes no time delivering both, and in doing so starts a power struggle that sets the village of Gibbeah on a path to destruction.

John Crow's Devil Press Reviews

'A powerful first novel ... Writing with assurance and control, James uses his small-town drama to suggest the larger anguish of a postcolonial society struggling for its own identity.'
New York Times Book Review

'A writer whose importance can scarcely be questioned.'

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781780748498
Publication date: 10/09/2015
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781780748498
Publication date: 10th September 2015
Author: Marlon James
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 240 pages
Genres: Debuts, eBook Favourites, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Diverse Voices, Spine-Chilling Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Marlon James

Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica. John Crow’s Devil is his debut novel, published in North America in 2005 to widespread acclaim. It was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His second novel, The Book of Night Women (Oneworld 2009), won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld 2014) won the American Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Fiction ...

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