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Paperback The Book of Night Women Book

ISBN: 1594484368

ISBN13: 9781594484360

The Book of Night Women

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Book Overview

From the author of the National Book Award finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf and the WINNER of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings

"An undeniable success." -- The New York Times Book Review

A true triumph of voice and storytelling, The Book of Night Women rings with both profound authenticity and a distinctly contemporary energy. It is the story of Lilith,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A thought provoking book

Evertime I read another book about slavery in the America's, slavery comes across as more and more evil. I have read many books on slavery in the US, I have read several regarding Haiti, and the overthrow of the French. Slavery has been a chapter or two in books I have read about the Carribean,but this is the first full book I have read about slavery in Jamaica. It proved one thing to me,No matter where in the America's, North, Central or South America where slavery was practiced, it was the same, inhumane. The things these women went through and still remained strong makes (to me) powerful reading. I very rarely givee a book a 5. I have to find it super powerful to earn that rating. This was one of those books.

A stunning display of language virtuosity

Lilith doesn't remember her mother or father. She has been raised by a slave, Circe, who pretty much does as she likes on a Jamaican sugar plantation as the century turns from 18th to 19th. The closest thing she has to a father, she thinks, is a slave who has lost his mind, and a few body parts, and who is reduced to living on a chain outside like a pitbull. Lilith survives under the protection of head house slave Homer, a woman who runs the household with rigor and holds her back straight. She also often speaks in riddles to Lilith, leaving the girl to figure out for herself what evil lurks in every heart. Including, in harrowing episodes, Lilith's own. That such a child not only survives, but works toward living life on her own terms as best she can, may not seem plausible. But Marlon James, a literature and creative writing professor, makes it believable in his second novel, The Book of Night Women. As her circumstances change, usually drastically and often for the worse, Lilith has little support working her way through the labryinth of feelings that confront a girl who becomes a woman, all the while never knowing true freedom to feel as she would like. Whether it's coming to terms for her feelings toward three important white men in her life or her sisters who seek revenge, Lilith has a lot to consider. James has written a brutal, earthy and compelling narrative written in a dialect that forces a reader to either let the story flow over or to slow down and ponder what every nuance means not only to his heroine, but also to the reader. There is language certain to offend people, especially those who can't even handle Mark Twain. There is never getting away from the harsh brutality of what slavery means, of the cruel physical and psychological misery that one group of people can do to another group, or one individual to another. The inability of the white people in the story to not understand that they haven't earned loyalty and affection after the whippings and rapings, and worse, is but one part of this massive story that has repercussions to this day. The beauty of this novel is that the author does not have to stand on a soapbox. The reality of the way people were treated speaks for itself. What James has done is to bring to vivid life the emotions and feelings of characters who are part of it without having a say in their place. And this includes some white characters as well as the slaves. That not many of the characters can handle their fate well does not mean their stories are not worth telling.


As a person who loves African & Caribbean hit the nail on the head! I have a Kindle and have been seeking something new to read and this book had me laughing, crying and deep in thought. I am of Caribbean decent and the dialect was perfect. I referred this book to one of my old Professors and she agrees.

Freedom Cometh With The Night

Marlon James's latest novel, The Book of Night Women, opens with an immediate ominous vibe as a much-too-young 13 year-old child dies giving birth to a green-eyed daughter (Lilith) in a dirty, old shack. Merge this unfortunate beginning with the hard living and harder dying on a late 18th century Jamaican sugar cane plantation populated with slaves named after characters portrayed in Greek tragedies and James delivers an intense novel steeped in history, mystery, with a touch of mysticism. At its core, this is a historical novel narrated by the slave, Lilith, and an unknown voice (which is revealed at the end) in heavy Jamaican patois and broken English. Orphaned at birth, she is raised by the barren and cruel concubine-of-sorts, Circe, and the insane, but caring, Tantalus. Puberty brings unwanted attention and in a brutal act of self-defense, the pretty Lilith is ostracized and placed in Homer's care at the "big house." Drama and more trouble ensue as Lilith vies for the master's attention and affection foregoing Homer's warnings and advice. Homer and Lilith's dialogue and experiences reveal the inter-/intra-relationships and the complex hierarchical strata and blended culture among slaves (house, field, Johnny-jumper), whites (British, French, Irish, Creole, owners, and overseers), Maroons, and Africans (Ashanti, Igbo, etc.). Homer, understanding the power of superstition, practices myal and inflicts an obeah-inspired method of control and revenge across the plantation. The Night Women are a group led by Homer, a natural leader and planner, who has been plotting revenge and a multi-plantation rebellion with other like-minded women on neighboring estates. Befriending and adding Lilith to the group causes consternation amongst the other women, including two who share her haunting green-eyes indicating a sisterly bond spawned by the same paternity. The plot thickens and twists as Lilith makes difficult choices (and have some made for her) as she grows into womanhood, negotiates the plantation politics, and evaluates her allegiance to friends, her heart, and her master. Be warned, the novel is written in native patois which might be a bit hard to follow initially until the reader finds cadence in the pages. The language and imagery at times are a bit vulgar and are painfully and tearfully graphic. Nonetheless, James has penned a novel that is sure to place on my "favorites" list for 2009 releases. This novel offers page-turning intrigue, unpredictable plot turns, and colorful characters with authentic voices to produce an award-worthy novel. Reviewed by Phyllis February 23, 2009 APOOO BookClub Nubian Circle Book Club

Quick Read

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James is an excellent follow up to his first novel, John Crowe's Devil. I think there are enough synopsis blurbs so I can skip telling everyone what happens. I became completely engrossed in this novel, it was hard for me not to read it in one sitting. Marlon James does an incredible job of crafting his story with exquisite depth and detail. Of course it may be hard to follow the language which is written as people would have spoken in Jamaica in the 18th century, yes it is fiction, but I've never even heard of fictional slaves that spoke like the Queen.

The Book of Night Women Mentions in Our Blog

The Book of Night Women in Treat Yourself!
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Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 19, 2023

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The Book of Night Women in Losing Yourself in Book Land
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Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • July 20, 2023

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The Book of Night Women in 11 Book Releases We're Excited About This Month
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Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 29, 2021

Our TBR shelves are already overloaded, but that doesn’t stop us from browsing (and buying!) new books! Here are eleven July releases that we can’t wait to pick up, along with suggestions for similar books you can pick up right now.

The Book of Night Women in 2015 Man Booker Prize: the shortlist is up
2015 Man Booker Prize: the shortlist is up
Published by Hugo Munday • September 16, 2015

Yesterday the shortlist of 6 finalists for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for fiction were announced. There is one debut novelist in Chigozie Obioma, but other than that the list is made up of known quantities. Here are some thoughts.

Marlon James has made it to the shortlist for the first time, continuing a prolific hit rate after John Crow's Body was a finalist for the LA Times Book prize and his The Book of Night Women also became a finalist in the 2010 National Book Critics Circle award.

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