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The Book of Jamaica

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In "The Book of Jamaica" Russell Banks explores the complexities of political life in the Caribbean and its ever-present racial conflicts. His narrator, a thirty-five-year-old college professor from New Hampshire, goes to Jamaica to write a novel and soon becomes embroiled in the struggles between whites and blacks. He is especially interested in an ancient tribe called the Maroons, descendants of the Ashanti, who had been enslaved by the Spanish and then fought the British in a hundred-year war. Despite this history of oppression, the Maroons have managed to maintain a relatively autonomous existence in Jamaica. Partly out of guilt and an intellectual sense of social responsibility, Bank's narrator gets involved in reuniting two clans who have been feuding for generations. Unfortunately, his attempt ends in disaster, and the narrator must deal with his feelings of alienation, isolation, and failure. Hide synopsis

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