Book Review: The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

by Notorious Spinks on 03.10.2011

book of night women by marlon james



Imagine yourself on a sugar plantation in Jamaica during the late 18th century. You are forced to endure the strongholds of slavery.  But this is not where you belong.  You feel out of place, peculiar and different.

There’s nowhere to run.  Nowhere to hide.  All you have is a dream.  A dream that someone will see past your black skin into your eyes…your green eyes and rescue you.

This is life for Lillith as the main character in The Book of Night Women by Marlon James.

Lillith, the daughter of a teenage slave girl and the plantation overseer, is raised in a home with a man and woman that she calls mother and father but she shares no resemblance. Deep in her heart she knows that she is different. Not only does Lillith know that she is different but the Night Women also know as they secretly keep an eye on her. As Lillith matures and comes face-to-face with her “darkness,” she is rescued by Homer, the leader of the Night Women. Homer is sure that Lillith just may be the one that will make their plot of a slave revolt successful.

I don’t recall having ever read a book written with the eloquence, detail and imagery used by Marlon James to bring the Night Women to life. James not only created characters that I could relate to but he created women characters that any woman could relate to. The Night Women possess strength, gumption, skill and a desire for freedom and they’re willing to get it at any cost. These women led by Homer, a house slave, aren’t fazed by the absence of men in this plot. They carry the load as they strategically use their plantation jobs to work for them. They know everything going on everywhere on the plantation.

In the beginning I wasn’t sure about this book because the patois/dialect frustrated me initially but I endured and it was well worth my time. I would recommend this book to anyone as a must-read and I nominate James for the Pulitzer Prize (if he is an American citizen that is.) However, for now, Marlon James is the 2011 award winner of the Spinks Prize for literary fiction. 🙂

This book is library worthy!

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Vasilly March 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm

What a great review! This has been sitting on my shelves for awhile. Now I hope to read this soon.


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