[This article was originally published in The Jamaica Sunday Observer. This online version has been slightly amended from the original article.]
John Crow’s Devil, Marlon James’ explosive entrance onto the literary stage, is not your conventional Caribbean novel. For starters, it has an unusual opening – it begins at ‘The End’. Readers are propelled immediately into the nub of the story, and thus from the outset are robbed of the element of surprise. Yet here is a book so tight with tension and suffused with mystery, it was hailed as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in 2006. ‘It’s the road to ruin that fascinates me, the journey if you will’ James says in explanation of his structural decision. And what an expedition this novel takes you on!