Book Review: The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

First, my confession. I didn’t finish this book, and I’m not likely to. That said, it was a fantastic book. I really want to know who the narrator was, and how the book ended. But, there’s a few problems. One, it’s in the slave dialect, and I found it hard to read. Even the characters who speak non-dialect English, their words aren’t in dialect, but the mention of who is speaking is. Two, James has chosen not to use quotation marks or other standard dialogue punctuation marks. I think this is a brilliant choice, and really helps the dialogue be part of the narration, but it doesn’t make the book any easier to read. Third, and this is the real reason I won’t finish the book, it is a very emotionally difficult book. In short, it was putting me in a bad mood. This probably sounds like a cop-out, but I do not have a dedicated reading time, and there are two people here who need me at any moment, and they depend on me to be in a good mood and help them with what they need. This is not an easy book to put down at a moment’s notice and slip right back into the everyday world. That’s how I have to read, and that’s why I can’t finish it.

5 out of 5 stars, because this is a brilliant book, and it’s not the book’s or the author’s fault that the very things that make it brilliant make it unreadable for me.

Congratulations, Mr. James, I really felt like I was there on that Jamaican slave plantation in the early nineteenth century.

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