Book review: John Crow’s Devil

TEN years before winning the Man Booker Prize, Marlon James published his debut novel in Jamaica, now available for the first time in Ireland .

It tells the story of two priests, Pastor Bligh and Apostle York, at war over the soul of the congregation of the small town of Gibbeah.

Blurring the line between good and evil, right and wrong, between God and the Devil, it questions how we choose to believe and who we choose to follow.

As a study of radicalisation and of how trauma plays out down the generations, it feels contemporary and necessary, exploring how religion can be used as justification for mankind’s deepest urges.

The patois lends it authenticity, but it feels too two-dimensional, too superficial, the fire and brimstone of the preachers not tempered by deeper explorations of character.

It’s good, but Marlon James has better to come.

John Crow’s Devil

Marlon James,

Oneworld, £8.99;

ebook, £6.29


They have absolutely nothing really to do with Jerusalem or indeed with any type of artichoke, so what exactly are these curious little tubers?Currabinny Cooks: Exploring the versatility of Jerusalem artichokes

Arlene Harris talks to three women who have stayed on good terms with their ex.The ex-factor: Three women on staying friends with their former partner

A child sleep expert outlines simple things to do during the day to help children settle better at night.10 clever daytime hacks to help your child get a good night’s sleep

Isabel Conway unveils the top travel trends for the year ahead.The travel trends for 2020: From the ‘skip-gen’ vacation to vegan breaks

More From The Irish Examiner