Pin It
Favorite

'The Long Song,' Andrea Levy 

Andrea Levy’s fictional memoir retells the history of slavery in Jamaica.

click to enlarge art15260.jpg

Andrea Levy spent 48 years of her life in virtual obscurity, writing away while working hard to get her published fiction read. It wasn’t until 2004, when her fourth novel, Small Island, won the Orange Prize for Fiction that she began to receive deserved recognition.

Since she won that prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year award for Small Island — about a group of Jamaican immigrants who move to England and ind a harsh reception — she has been regarded as a writer who’s reinventing historical fiction.

In her latest novel, The Long Song, we meet a former slave named July whose adult son Thomas is determined to publish his mother’s memoirs. July will comply, she says, but only if all the silly descriptions of trees and grass are left out, as she does not want her book included among the “puff and twaddle of some white lady’s mind.”

The novel begins with July’s enslaved mother, Kitty, being raped by a Jamaican plantation’s overseer. Nine years later, the child born of that rape is given as a servant to the plantation owner’s sister, Caroline.

Levy doesn’t avoid detailing the harsh circumstances of the slaves’ lives. Plantation owners and white people generally all considered the black slaves as dogs deserving of punishment when they failed to obey.

Yet Levy manages to evoke both the cruelty and ridiculousness of some of the punishments, with some of the satire directed at Caroline: “The missus’s favored punishment was to strike July sharply upon the top of the head with her shoe,” Levy writes. “Although hopping and hobbling, the missus could chase July around the room for several minutes to deliver her blow.”

The book follows July through the 10-day Baptist War that ended slavery in Jamaica in July 1838 and into a three-way relationship that develops among July, Caroline, and her new abolitionist husband.

In this fictional memoir, the history of slavery in Jamaica plays out in a realistic way that makes you laugh and cry — leaving readers to evaluate the diverse characters in The Long Song.

  • Pin It

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • Fear and the Faithful
  • Fear and the Faithful

    Into the heart of the NCAA tournament over three days in Seattle
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Bringing it Home
  • Bringing it Home

    The Gonzaga women make a Cinderella run that brings them to Spokane for the Sweet 16
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Ascending Artist: Brian Houghton
  • Ascending Artist: Brian Houghton

    How one still-evolving artist learned not to be constrained by conventions
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Stage to Screen: Of Mice and Men

Stage to Screen: Of Mice and Men @ Bing Crosby Theater

Sun., March 29, 2 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Tammy Marshall

  • Machete
  • Machete

    They just f---ed with the wrong Mexican.
    • Jan 26, 2011
  • Good Times
  • Good Times

    Winter events worth checking out this season.
    • Jan 12, 2011
  • Ten Years to the top
  • Ten Years to the top

    How Spokane got the best party around
    • Dec 29, 2010
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • The Java Experience

    Caffé Affogato brings Italian-style coffees to Saranac Commons
    • Mar 11, 2015
  • New Beginning

    After opening quietly last fall, Happiness Chinese Restaurant is turning heads on East Sprague
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation