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


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