Augustown

Augustown

Kei Miller / Sep 19, 2019

Augustown From the winner of the Forward Prize Augustown is a magical and haunting novel set in the underbelly of Jamaica Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything So when her great nephew Kaia comes home

  • Title: Augustown
  • Author: Kei Miller
  • ISBN: 9781474603607
  • Page: 309
  • Format: Hardcover
  • From the winner of the Forward Prize, Augustown is a magical and haunting novel set in the underbelly of Jamaica.Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything So when her great nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear running through her While they wait for his mama to come home from work, Ma Taffy recalls the story of the flying preFrom the winner of the Forward Prize, Augustown is a magical and haunting novel set in the underbelly of Jamaica.Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything So when her great nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear running through her While they wait for his mama to come home from work, Ma Taffy recalls the story of the flying preacherman and a great thing that did not happen A poor suburban sprawl in the Jamaican heartland, Augustown is a place where many things that should happen don t, and plenty of things that shouldn t happen do For the story of Kaia leads back to another momentous day in Jamaican history, the birth of the Rastafari and the desire for a better life.

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      Published :2018-09-11T08:04:15+00:00

    About "Kei Miller"

      • Kei Miller

        Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978 He read English at the University of the West Indies and completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University His work has appeared in The Caribbean Writer, Snow Monkey, Caribbean Beat and Obsydian III His first collection of short fiction, The Fear of Stones, was short listed in 2007 for the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize His first poetry collection, Kingdom of Empty Bellies, was published in March 2006 by Heaventree Press his second, There Is an Anger That Moves, was published by Carcanet in October 2007 He is also the editor of Carcanet s New Caribbean Poetry An Anthology He has been a visiting writer at York University in Canada, the Department of Library Services in the British Virgin Islands and a Vera Ruben Fellow at Yaddo, and currently teaches Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.


    577 Comments

    1. There is very little doubt in my mind that Augustown is brilliant.  It is such a simple tale and yet so complex in the moods and emotions evoked.  He showcases that what happens (the event) is not the story.  What happens is only the face or the cover.  The story, the reverberations, the impact, the undercurrents, the culture, the resentment, the simmering anger, the privilege, the inequities; all of these things and more are percolating in communities.  Flowing, growing, changing.  It's a [...]


    2. What is Augustown about? Here’s the author, speaking through one of his characters: “Look, this isn’t magic realism. This is not another story about superstitious island people and their primitive beliefs. No. You don’t get off that easy. This is a story about people as real as you are, and as real as I once was before I became a bodiless thing floating up here in the sky.”Intrigued? How could you not be? This book is simply magnificent, a testimony to where the creative mind can take [...]


    3. An inverted gold crown on a jet background graces my cover of Kei Miller’s 2016 novel Augustown and the fiction points to the couple of days in the 20th C when the power structure inverted in a small town in Jamaica. A flying preacher, Alexander Bedward, is instrumental in inspiring the beginnings of the Rastafarian movement in 1920’s Jamaica. That story is wrapped around a more current parallel story of Gina, the clever girl some thought would also fly. "e stories bounce against each other [...]


    4. I selected this book from the Tournament of Books longlist as a potential dark horse. I really liked it and would love to see it make the shortlist. I like the way it plays with storytelling and assumptions the reader might be making.Halfway through, I was confronted with this:"Look, this isn't magic realism. This is not another story about superstitious island people and their primitive beliefs. No. You don't get off that easy. This is a story about people as real as you are, and as real as I o [...]


    5. With this amazing novel, Miller provides a portrait of 20th century Jamaican history through conversations, retelling of folk stories and witnessed events (with mythic interpretation). We see attempts of the darkest-skin people to break free spiritually in a culture where skin tone defines class. All of this happens in Augustown, the poor section of Kingston.Ma Taffy has raised three girls and now the child of the last, a six year old boy, Kaia. He is being raised Rastafarian by his mother, Gina [...]


    6. A hauntingly beautiful and yet brutal story. It's a hard combination to pull off, and Miller does it. Lyricism can be used to make ugly things too pretty and bearable but I never felt that Miller walked into this trap--instead, his poetry of expression allowed me to look straight into the story, and to see the humanity and uniqueness of his characters. Augustown also manages to tell a lot of story in a little book--only 250 pages. In these ways I prefer it to Marlon James's bludgeon of a masterp [...]


    7. “To know a man properly, you must know the shape of his hurt—the specific wound around which his person has been formed like a scab.”I am mesmerized by Kei Miller’s unique poetic voice. There’s a soft ring to it, a gentle clarity.Augustown has a timeless quality, as if it wasn’t so much written as revealed. And after reading it, I feel like a child feels after a magical fairy tale: aware of a whole new world.Jamaica is a place I’ve never been, an exotic locale to me. But Miller did [...]


    8. Andrew Bedward (1848 – 1930) was one of the most successful preachers of Jamaican Revivalism. His followers became Garveyites and then later Rastafarians. They fought against colonial and white oppression. Born in St. Andrew’s Parish north of Kingston, Jamaica, it is in this same parish in which August Town exists today, the Augustown of the book’s title. When the GR book description states that Ma Taffy “recalls the story of the flying preacherman”, it is Andrew Bedward that she is sp [...]


    9. The writing in this book will leave you breathless. Just exquisite prose. I just turned the last page and I immediately started reading the beginning of the book again. I wanted to both go over some scenes in this book that I was little confused or maybe befuddled about, but also revisit the lyrical prose. This book reminded me a little of The Fishermen by Obioma; Claire of the Sea Light by Danticat; and some others. One critic compared the writing to Garcia Márquez, whom I've never read, but c [...]


    10. this is the story of the jamaican people but it is also the story of all the peoplewith melatonin in their skinwho were enslavedand then were freedand nothing changed becausethey were owned anywayso they created their storiesand the stories are truethey are stories of hope and elevationeven asthey are still ownedand traumatizedand casually lynchedand you can'tkeepthemdowncuzthey fly.


    11. The third time I read a work by Kei Miller (after the original and emotional The Last Warner Woman and the poetry collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion)! I can see that Kei Miller is forging his own literary path. In other words, he has his own writing style and I like that!Essentially, I think Augustown is about the "gap" in Jamaican society - be it upper vs. lower class, white vs. black, educated vs. uneducated, Babylon vs. Rasta. Augustown is a poor part of town where the bli [...]


    12. So, so good -- powerful, fascinating and ultimately heartbreaking story of Jamaica in the 20th century, with brilliant storytelling and language. Also a wonderful audio book thanks to Miller's exceptional writing matched with Dona Croll's narration, although unless your ear is used to Jamaican vernacular and accents, you might want to do what I did and listen to the first half hour or so twice before going through the entire book.




    13. A top read for this year. I remain in afterglow a month after finishing this book.The story, the feel of the book, and the gorgeous writing swept me into another world. There are so many layers of meaning, of revealing. I greatly admire poets who write novels because those books then become infused with poetry; it almost seems inevitable. I relish the beautiful language here. And there's poetry in the created atmosphere as well. The pacing and the lived world all have that quality.Several favori [...]



    14. Augustown is essentially a collection of the oral and written stories that define a Jamaican community. That structure is both a positive and a negative: While it introduces a diversity of voices and allows for the interweaving of bits of history and etymology, it can also make the book seem more like a set of disparate tales than a connected story line, even though Miller keeps circling back to April 11, 1982. It definitely requires a suspension of disbelief to appreciate what Miller is doing h [...]


    15. In his novel “Augustown” Kei Miller asks us to question the assumptions we make about people. Central to this book is the story of an over-zealous teacher who cuts off a boy’s dreadlocks in his classroom. This is in a poor neighbourhood school in the fictional city of Augustown in Jamaica and this incident sparks off a dramatic event that gets the whole town marching. Built around this story are stories characters tell each other. These tales span back many years and involve a range of dyn [...]



    16. “You may as well stop to consider a more urgent question; not whether you believe in this story or not, but whether this story is about the kinds of people you have never taken the time to believe in”. I loved the writing style here…not showy but still poetic, subdued but effective in letting the dialog and events speak for themselves. Also, this is a book which is uniquely set in and about Jamaica and yet the story is ultimately universal in my opinion. Any reader will be able to observe [...]



    17. Set in Augustown, a poor district of Jamaica, Miller has created a tale which is simultaneously epic and intimate. From an opening episode where a little boy comes home crying because a teacher has chopped off his dreadlocks, spins a story of poverty, oppression, love and death. That the book is only 220 pages long tells us something about the way the writing works: it's compressed and allusive rather than over-detailed, and Miller has confidence in his readers that we will 'get' what's going on [...]


    18. PW best fiction of 2017- started audio, returned to audible-having trouble with the accent, need to read, not listen


    19. C'est un texte étonnant, fort qui nous présente la Jamaïque dans sa fragilité. La construction romanesque est totale. Un très grand livre sur le bedwardisme et le mouvement rastafari


    20. I just wish I hadn't waited so long to read this novel. Told intermittently with a typical Jamaican lilt, the language only served to heighten the spellbinding nature of this many layered story . I had such visual images of the characters ,particularly the older generation, passing on stories that had been handed down generation to generation. Miller is an enormously talented author, portraying the story of a wise old blind woman, Ma Taffy, who starts the novel by telling her grandson, Kaia, the [...]


    21. "Look, this isn't magic realism. This is not another story about superstitious island people and their primitive beliefs. No. You don't get off that easy. This is a story about people as real as you are, and as real as I once was before I became a bodiless thing floating up here in the sky. You might as well consider a more urgent question; not whether you believe this story or not, but whether this story is about the kinds of people you have never taken the time to believe in."


    22. By the rivers of babylon, kei miller, zulmaL’action se déroule à Augustown, quartier pauvre et Rastafari de Kingston, en Jamaique. L’aveugle Ma Taffy la doyenne du quartier ne voit rien, mais pressent bien que quelque chose d’horrible se prépare, et pour cause : son petit-fils revient de l’école en pleurs. Ma Taffy n’y voit plus rien mais elle le sent, le quartier aujourd’hui bouillonne, et les larmes du petit garçon en ont fait le tour. Le maître d’école de Kaia lui a coup [...]


    23. Miller knows how to describe what is happening in a character's head as well as how to capture details. He also can reach beyond the practical to the impossible, in his relating folk stories. He's not so factually detailed to be a history, yet his stories have a basis in history. In this novel, the reader sees the class and social problems in Jamaica through an incident involving a Rastafarian boy and the people of Augustown's response. He is not one to cast blame. His characters of whatever sta [...]


    24. A story that takes place in two times: the present is April 11, 1982, in the Kingston neighborhood of Augustown; the past, presented as a story (merging into a flashback) is December, 1920, when Augustown (a slightly modified version of August Town) was still a separate village far from the city. In the present, we have the Jamaica we have met in Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings, filled with senseless hatred and violence; in the past, under British rule, we have the story of "the [...]


    25. Atmospheric.I particularly wanted to enjoy this book as the author was at our literary festival and he was just lovely. He was the only man on a panel for International Ladies Day and had such empathy. I really felt this empathy in the way he wrote his main character of Augustown, the elderly, blind, Ma Taffy.I was listening to the audio version of this book, read by Dona Croll, which was great for getting the correct Jamaican accent, but a bit irritatingly slow.However, for me, the part that lo [...]


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