9.2.18 Pick: "Augustown"

With Trini Carnival in mind (and in full swing this week) my intention was to feature a new selection by a Trinbagonian author. Essentially, I wanted to share a literary reflection of Trini culture that coincided with our vibrant festival. Unfortunately, my schedule for taking content photos didn't quite go as planned. (Yes, I actually schedule taking these photos in advance because it makes executing my intentions regarding the book club and blog way easier). As a result of the planning hiccup, the Trini written works will be coming later in the year. For now, I'm highlighting this spectacular read by a Jamaican writer. Augustown is a worthy alternative if I dare say. It was on my list of books to showcase since reading it last year. Initially, I meant to save posting about it for another but since I already had photos for it and it is by a Caribbean writer, I figured it was an ideal alternative to February's 'option a'. 

Augustown is a book that teleports you to other places, times and spaces (physical and mental) and fully immerses you there. From the first page, the writing has you in its grip thanks to author, Kei Miller's storytelling, which is some of those most exquisite I've experienced in recent years. His  unhurried, intentional pace allows you to settle in to the world he has created. Complementing that, his beautiful prose betrays his background in poetry. My favourite type of writing is the kind in which, the author embraces language and molds it into something beautiful, seamless and strong. Viscerally, you sense what unfolds on the pages. Miller does this deftly. Sometimes you read a book and even if you are enjoying it, you remain aware that someone has contrived what you're reading. Well, this is definitely not the case wth Augustown. You might as well be a fly on the wall, or some other presence observing these real lives and histories. Speaking of histories, let me finally tell you what the book is about. 

Augustown is set in Jamaica, specifically in the namesake community, a community with a past steeped in black Jamaican resistance movements. The book moves between various periods in this place, revealing the victories, injustices, powers and weaknesses that the inhabitants have confronted. Miller makes vivid what to some may be very unfamiliar aspects of Jamaican (Caribbean) history. For certain, these are messy occurrences - struggles that have imparted scars on generations of people ...traumas that need to be healed, wrongs that should be made right. Nonetheless, they are important struggles to learn about. To a large extent such struggles have shaped much that is Jamaica. Kei Miller isn't preachy or convoluted in depicting these happenings. He gives voice to the stories of Augustown with self assurance and a depth of feeling. Perhaps, due to this it is inevitable that you will be  emotionally moved. I think you would be better for it. 

I found it quite memorable and intend to read it again and again so I'm particularly keen to hear your responses. Stay tuned for my review of this selection!

Photography: Kyeon Constantine