Book Review: Augustown

Author: Kei Miller
Publisher: Pantheon
Genre: Fiction

Me after reading:

Jamaica GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Autoclaps: (Noun). Jamaican dialect. An impending disaster; Calamity; Trouble on top of trouble. Variously pronounced ‘attaclaps’, or (given the Jamaican tendency to add ‘H’s in front of vowels) ‘hattaclaps’.

A blind woman who can see the shape of the autoclaps approaching, her niece-daughter secretly smarter than she shows, a self-hating black man whose hatred makes him cut off a child’s locs, the truth about a flying preacher spun into folklore—this book tells their story, and the story of Augustown, an inner city in Kingston, Jamaica, where the marginalized live between two scarred mountains, surrounded by the promise of autoclaps daily. April 11, 1982 is the day of the autoclaps, but the circumstances surrounding the special day aren’t all that special. Even the way the story itself is narrated, by a voice from above seeing things reoccur, pivoting between past and future from this one day, shows how history hppens over and over again. Without being too righteously indignant, Miller shows the racism, classism, and anti-Rasta sentiment in Jamaica and what it was like navigating that space, without demanding that you feel a certain type of way.


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