Book review: Augustown

KEI MILLER’s third novel invites us to Jamaica in 1982, to a poor suburb of Kingston called Augustown — which, the 2014 Forward poetry prize-winner assures in the preface, is a fictionalised version of t August Town. 

Kei Miller

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99;

ebook, £6.99

In Augustown, an almost blind Rastafarian grandmother, Ma Taffy, can sense disaster looming as her distressed grandson returns from school.

To soothe him, she speaks of the ‘flying preacherman’: A 19th century revivalist called Alexander Bedford, who claimed to be able to fly. 

But the events of this single day entwine around Ma Taffy’s family as conflicts between religious prejudice, social hierarchy, and the oppression of the poor by ‘Babylon’ build to a head.

Writing in Jamaican dialect gives Miller’s rich prose the ebb and swell of verbal folk tales, but he harmonises his fundamentally simple story with relevant events that echo down the decades. 

It’s a brilliant, textured read with the horrifying inevitability of a classical tragedy, but you can’t stop before the end.


Lifestyle

Leopard print midi dresses and sequins swirled beneath glossy goddess hair and golden headbands as the great and the good of Cork gathered for ieStyle Live.Leopard print and sequins to the fore at inaugural #IEStyleLive event

You have a long half-term break ahead of you all, and there’s only so much screen time anyone in the family can handle. Everyone is going to need a book-break at some point or another.We reviewed some of the best new books to keep kids entertained over half-term

Sexual politics, snideput-downs and family rivalries are fuelling the trouble brewing in a small Midlands town.Charlie Murphy and Pat Shortt star in new Irish film 'Dark lies the Island'

Robert Hume tells of the eccentric MP for Athboy, Co. Meath – born 300 years ago this month – who thought he was a teapot, and was afraid his spout might break off.A strange brew of a man: The MP for Meath who believed he was a teapot

More From The Irish Examiner