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View from Mount Diablo

Written by Phillipia Phillips for Jamaica Gleaner on no date provided

RALPH THOMPSON’S View from Mt. Diablo deservedly won the 2001 Jamaican National Literary Award. It is 56 pages of narrative poetry par excellence.

The realism in the book is striking and we are confronted with the reminder that Jamaica has not really changed over recent times. We are still faced with much of the same problems that existed when the book was written. The corrupt police force, the drug wars, turf/gang wars and political corruption, to which it speaks, are demons which continue to plague us today. One may very well ask, is this the price we pay for independence?

The main characters of the book are a white Jamaican, Adam Cole; Nellie Simpson, the servant who cared for him as a child and Nathan, his gardener. Three persons whose lives are characterised by different circumstances and the author skilfully shows how these circumstances affect the lifestyles they choose to follow in post-colonial Jamaica.

‘Nubile Nellie’, who stole Adam’s innocence has swapped sex for power and has become a dangerous political enforcer. Nathan (Adam’s gardener and boyhood friend), ‘has graduated from poverty. No longer the stuttering groom/gardener, he now rules the drug kingdom trading AK47s for ganja.’ Adam finds himself in a precarious position. He has the information to expose both Nathan and Nellie and ultimately plays the role of crusader.

The language used in the slim volume is simple yet arresting. The detailed nature of the narrative encourages the belief that the author has the benefit of experience and wrote from an informed position. For all poetry lovers View from Mt. Diablo is a worthy addition to your collection and will make an excellent gift for the season.

This is a review of View from Mount Diablo

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