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An Absence of Ruins

After a lengthy stay in London, Alexander Blackman, a young sociologist, returns to Jamaica to advance the revolution. But what he finds there plunges him into an existential crisis – with his marriage, his mother, his would-be radical colleagues and his own political commitments. So far is fictional “fact”. But what is the status of the diary that Blackman is writing? Is it to be taken at face value or is something else going on?


Orlando Patterson
Caribbean Modern Classics, Novel
United Kingdom, Jamaica
Date published
20 Nov 2012

An Absence of Ruins is a politically engaged novel and an aesthetically daring one that simultaneously plots an often darkly comic narrative, and offers a serious parody of the middle-classness of the West Indian novel. There is nothing quite like it in Anglophone Caribbean fiction.

When it was published in 1967, An Absence of Ruins bemused reviewers, who saw it as a nihilistic work out of sympathy with post-independence hopes. Now, forty-five years later, it is possible to see it as an unexploded bomb, still ticking and very much alive.

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Orlando Patterson

Horace Orlando Patterson was born in Westmoreland, Jamaica, on June 5, 1940. He grew up in Clarendon in the little town of Maypen.

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