Jason Lumley is in a Miami bar when he sees a newsflash reporting the murder of his politician father, Albert Lumley. With his girlfriend, Nicole, Jason returns to his native Jamaica for the funeral. There the murder is regarded by all as part of the bipartisan warfare which has torn the country apart.
But when Jason meets his old mentor, Papa Legba, the Rastafarian hints at a darker truth. Under the guidance of his locksman Virgil, and redeemed by his love for the Beatrice-like figure of Nicole, Jason enters the several circles of Jamaica’s hell. The portrayal of the garrison ghetto area of Standpipe is, in particular, profoundly disturbing.
In his infernal journeyings, Jason encounters both former acquaintances and earlier versions of himself. In the process he confronts conflicting claims on his identity: the Jason shaped by the middle-class colonial traditions of Jamaica College and the Benjamin who was once close to Papa Legba.
Benjamin, My Son combines the excitement of the fast-paced thriller, the literary satisfactions of its intertextual play and the bracing commentary of its portrayal of the sexism, homophobia and moral corruption which have filled the vacuum vacated by the collapse of the nationalist dream.
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Geoffrey Philp was born in Jamaica. He now lives and works in Miami.
He maintains a blog @ geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com
Published: 01 November 2003