Under explicit (and convincing) instructions from our narrator not to describe this story as magic realism, I'll say instead that it's threaded with the divine. Augustown begins with a re-imagining of an actual event—the failed ascension of Alexander Bedward, a 19th century Jamaican preacher who fell from atop a tree amid his parishioners rather than float to heaven as he had promised. Most of the novel takes place a century later, but Bedward's story echoes throughout. Kei Miller's affection for his characters comes through best in his vivid use of the regional patois. Moving and gripping, with an emotional gut-punch of a denouement. -Shawn— From Summer Booknotes 2017
In a book that is at once expansive and also lean and taut, Jamaica-born poet and prose writer Kei Miller has written a quietly powerful novel of people bound by place and circumstance in Jamaica for a good part of this past century. Certain larger, possibly mysterious powers are invoked, along with those of greed, betrayal, latent colonialism, and class-determined fate - all rendered in beautiful, concise, poetic language. Augustown feels deeply to be conjured of the Jamaica and the actual Augustown it comes from. Now it's a book to sink deeply, memorably, into the hearts and minds of readers everywhere.— From Rick
11 April 1982: a smell is coming down John Golding Road right alongside the boy-child, something attached to him, like a spirit but not quite. Ma Taffy is growing worried. She knows that something is going to happen. Something terrible is going to pour out into the world. But if she can hold it off for just a little bit longer, she will. So she asks a question that surprises herself even as she asks it, "Kaia, I ever tell you bout the flying preacherman?" Set in the backlands of Jamaica, Augustown is a magical and haunting novel of one woman's struggle to rise above the brutal vicissitudes of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth.
About the Author
KEI MILLER is the author of two previous novels, several poetry collections, and Fear of Stones and Other Stories, which was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book. In 2014, he won the Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection for The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion. Born in Jamaica, he lives in London and teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.