The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: a novel in bass riddim
Longlisted for the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread offers a world of magical possibility despite being set at the worst of times in recent Jamaican history. Bob Marley has just died, the Emperor Haile Selassie has been brutally murdered, the armed gangs of Kingston are at war and the murder rate soars. Packed with the stories of both the living and the dead, Marcia Douglas still manages to celebrate the endurance and wondrous creative humanity of Jamaica's people.
Marcia Douglas
ISBN number
Fiction, Novel
Country setting
Publication date
24 Oct 2016

Longlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses 2016 and the  2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

Bob Marley is dead. The Emperor Haile Selassie has been brutally murdered. The armed gangs of Kingston are at war and the murder rate soars. The people have lost all trust in self-serving politicians. It is hard to imagine worse times.

The Marvellous Equations of the Dread tells the twin stories of Jamaica’s nihilistic violence and its wondrously creative humanity and does truthful justice to both. It takes place in the worlds of the living and in the vivid afterlife of the dead, spanning the Kingston ghettoes, the Emperor’s palace in Addis Ababa and Zion. There is even a fallen angel. 

At its heart are the human stories of the deaf Leenah who with her mother and daughter writes a powerful woman version of events; the relationship between Fall-down (the street madman and fallen angel) and Delroy the orphaned street-boy, and the meetings in the clock tower at Half Way Tree between Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and the island’s dead. There is also the enslaved boy who was hung from the silk cotton tree in 1766. The novel sets out to retrieve the word at the tip of his tongue.

Not least of the novel’s marvellous equations are the dread revenants who encourage the living to take responsibility for the future of the nation.



Marcia Douglas

Marcia Douglas's latest novel is The Marvellous Equations of the Dread. She is also the author of the novels, Madam Fate and Notes from a Writer's Book of Cures and Spells as well as a poetry collection, Electricity Comes to Cocoa Bottom. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies internationally, including Edexcel Anthology for English Language, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse, The Forward Book of Poetry, Kingston Noir, Jubilation! 40 Years of Jamaican Poetry, Mojo: Conjure Stories, Whispers from Under the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction, Caribbean Erotic: Poetry, Prose, Essays, and The Art of Friction: Where (Non) Fictions Come Together. Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. In addition to writing, she performs a one-woman show, “Natural Herstory,” and is on faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she teaches creative writing and Caribbean literature.
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