‐ Home of the Best in Caribbean & Black British Writing ‐

Paint the Town Red

Brian Meeks’s novel is a moving requiem for the years of an extraordinary ferment in Jamaican society, when reggae and Rastafarian dreams reached from the ghettoes to the University campus, and idealistic young men and women threw themselves into the struggle to free independent Jamaica from its colonial past.

£7.99

Author(s)
Brian Meeks
ISBN
9781900715744
Pages
120
Price
£7.99
Classification
Fiction, Novels
Setting
Jamaica
Date published
1 May 2003

Brian Meeks’s novel is a moving requiem for the years of an extraordinary ferment in Jamaican society, when reggae and Rastafarian dreams reached from the ghettoes to the University campus, and idealistic young men and women threw themselves into the struggle to free independent Jamaica from its colonial past. In portraying the the temptations towards tribal revenge that corrupted the vision of change, Meeks’s sensitively written and well-structured novel speaks powerfully to the present, when even now, Jamaica’s political divisions erupt into killings on the streets.

As Mikey Johnson takes a minibus through Kingston on his release from eleven years in jail, what he sees and the persons he meets provoke memories of the years when those who sought to destabilize Jamaican society, fearful of the radical socialist direction it was taking, unleash a virtual civil war. His encounters reveal that few have escaped unscathed from those years: there are the dead (in body and in spirit), the wounded, the turncoats, and those like himself who are condemned to carry the burden of those times. 

Mikey's quest to discover why he survived when his friend Carl and lover, Rosie, were killed in a shootout with the police draws him to look for Caroline, the other woman he was involved with before his imprisonment. From her he discovers a bitter truth about Jamaica's unwritten code of class and its role in his survival.

One of the encounters is, we learn in a postscript to the novel, with Rohan, Rosie's brother. Rohan has suffered this loss deeply, but has survived to move forward, while Mikey, with the stigma of his imprisonment, is trapped in the past. It is Rohan who tells Mikey’s story, a revelation that casts a reflexive light on the relationship between the actual writer and his subject.

Share this book

Brian Meeks

Brian Meeks was born in Montreal, Canada of West Indian parents and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. He is Professor of Africana Studies and Chair of the Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre Department at Brown University. He has authored or edited eleven books on Caribbean politics, political culture and thought, including Caribbean Revolutions and Revolutionary Theory (1993 and 2000), Culture, Politics, Race and Diaspora: the Thought of Stuart Hall (2007), and Critical Interventions in Caribbean Politics and Theory (2014).

View author profile

‐ Home of the Best in Caribbean & Black British Writing ‐