Exploring novels set in Jamaica – World Party Reading Challenge

Books set in Jamaica - The Long Song by Andrea LevyWell, I have been a dismal failure in keeping up with my own (inherited!) challenge…but as with all setbacks, there is nothing to be done but to pick yourself up and carry on.

So for now, we are all going to have to do a little bit of creative calendaring and pretend we are back in April…while we make a little trip to Jamaica for the World Party Reading Challenge.

There was really no choice for me when it came to considering books set in Jamaica – I knew exactly which one I wanted to read. Andrea Levy’s The Long Song has been on my TBR list ever since it came out last year, so I have just download it onto my kindle (yes, I have succumbed!) and am keen to get started.

The novel is set in the 19th century and is the story of July, a Jamaican house slave on a sugar plantation. July grows up at a time when calls for freedom are gathering, culminating in a slave revolt which leads to emancipation in 1838 – so I’m guessing we will experience a whole heap of Jamaican history through July’s eyes.

I know little about Jamaica, so am looking forward to finding out more.

A couple of other novels you may want to consider are….

The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson in which we witness political change and the Books set in Jamaica - The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompsonglamor of Hollywood visitors to the island through three generations of women. After screen legend Errol Flynn is nearly shipwrecked off the Jamaican coast, he sets up home on Navy Island, where he holds glittering parties and has an affair with a young Jamaican girl, Ida. The story of Jamaica’s tumultuous struggle for self-rule and its eventual independence are all part of this novel which centers on Ida as she attempts to care for the child Flynn leaves behind.

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James is another story of slavery and rebellion on a Jamaican sugar caneBooks set in Jamaica - The Book of Night Women by Marlon James plantation. Written in Jamaican patois, this story of the slave girl Lillith and the ‘Night Women’ who plot to bring about change reveals the brutality and horror of the time.

And there are several others listed at our Jamaica page, so take a look and see if anything there inspires you.

Here’s a few of the important bits of Jamaican history you will want to keep in mind as you are reading.

  • Jamaica is in the Caribbean Sea about 90 miles (145 kilometres) south of Cuba. It was first claimed by the Spanish, and then became a British colony after it was seized by the English in 1655. It is still part of the British Commonwealth.
  • Slavery was part of Jamaica from the days of Spanish colonialism when African slaves were brought to the island. The trading of slaves was banned in 1807, but it was the 1830’s before slavery itself was officially abolished.
  • Jamaica became independent in 1962 after a brief time being a part of the Federation of West Indies.

Now if you have been incredibly organised and have actually read your Jamaica book already, then I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Or if you have a review of a book set in Jamaica on your own blog, then give us a link so we can all see what you think….

But if, like me, you are still thinking you are in April…then now is the perfect time to get started

UPDATE: To read my review of The Long Song, click here.

Suzi

Enjoyed this post? Have a look at our other World Party Reading Challenge selections.

Afghanistan
Turkey
Greece
Iran
England
Ireland
Pakistan
Russia
Spain
Thailand

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Comments

  1. Kari

    I read The Long Song for my April selection! Interested to see what you have to say about it.

    And come on, it’s summer time now!! Leave those unstable weather days behind!

    [Reply]

  2. beastmomma

    I like the idea of creative calendering. Makes completing challenges much easier.

    [Reply]

    packabook Reply:

    Oh yes – I feel there’s going to be quite a bit of ‘Creative Calendaring’ going on. Welcome to the fold!

    [Reply]

    • packabook

      Oh yes – I feel there’s going to be quite a bit of ‘Creative Calendaring’ going on. Welcome to the fold!

      [Reply]

  3. Vera Marie Badertscher`

    Thanks for featuring Jamaica–late or not. I have a trip coming up and have been looking for literature, but the three you suggest are pretty much what I’m coming up with–history–fascinating, but I’m looking for a contemporary writer or book set in contemporary Jamaica. I did watch the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back which is loaded with beautiful Jamaica scenery, and will be talking about that at A Traveler’s Library, but haven’t read the book. And I watched instead of read Sargasso Sea, another historic take (prequel to Jane Eyre). Would like to know if I should read the much-touted book. The movie was pretty dull–if you can call all those sex scenes dull!!

    [Reply]

    packabook Reply:

    Ah – that’s a great challenge – what is the best, contemporaryish Jamaica novel we can find! There’s a few on our books set in Jamaica page http://www.packabook.com/books-set-in-jamaica.html – two of them with solid five star reviews on Amazon….
    – Jamaica Girl by Jon Michael Miller
    – Greetings from Jamaica, Wish you were Queer by Mari SanGiovanni
    Unfortunately I haven’t read either of them (yet!) or Wide Sargasso Sea. My Jamaican reading is sorely lacking at the moment! Though am enjoying Long Song so far….

    [Reply]

    • packabook

      Ah – that’s a great challenge – what is the best, contemporaryish Jamaica novel we can find! There’s a few on our books set in Jamaica page http://www.packabook.com/books-set-in-jamaica.html – two of them with solid five star reviews on Amazon….
      – Jamaica Girl by Jon Michael Miller
      – Greetings from Jamaica, Wish you were Queer by Mari SanGiovanni
      Unfortunately I haven’t read either of them (yet!) or Wide Sargasso Sea. My Jamaican reading is sorely lacking at the moment! Though am enjoying Long Song so far….

      [Reply]

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