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Jonestown Paperback – March, 1997
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About the Author
Wilson Harris was born in 1921 in the former colony of British Guiana. He was a land surveyor before leaving for England in 1959 to become a full-time writer. His exploration of the dense forests, rivers and vast savannahs of the Guyanese hinterland features prominently in the settings of his fiction. Harris's novels are complex, alluding to diverse mythologies from different cultures, and eschew conventional narration in favour of shifting interwoven voices. His first novel Palace of the Peacock (1960) became the first of The Guyana Quartet, which includes The Far Journey of Oudin (1961), The Whole Armour (1962) and The Secret Ladder (1963). He later wrote The Carnival Trilogy (Carnival (1985), The Infinite Rehearsal (1987) and The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990)). His most recent novels are Jonestown (1996), which tells of the mass-suicide of a thousand followers of cult leader Jim Jones; The Dark Jester (2001), his latest semi-autobiographical novel, The Mask of the Beggar (2003), and one of his most accessible novels in decades, The Ghost of Memory (2006). Wilson Harris also writes non-fiction and critical essays and has been awarded honorary doctorates by several universities, including the University of the West Indies (1984) and the University of Liege (2001). He has twice been winner of the Guyana Prize for Literature.
Top customer reviews
reconstruction of the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide from one
of the forerunners of magical realism: Wilson Harris.
The story begins on a "dateless date" when Francisco Bone, the sole
surivor of the mass suicide led by Jim Jones, writes a
letter to the Longman Chronicle of America relating his
observations of that bizarre day.
Like all good magical realism, time becomes a blur when
Bone, the skeleton of time, travels to the distant past and future to sort out the
present. The past becomes a prediction for the future
and although it's difficult to visualise, the future becomes
a prediction of the past. As usual, Harris's writing is a
challenge to decipher. Throughout this bizarre web of time,
Harris connects lost civilizations of the past to Jonestown.
"Was Jonestown the latest manifestation of the breakdown of
populations within the hidden...pre-Columbian civilizations?"
Bone asks as he becomes obsessed with this and other philosophical
questions. Wilson traces Jones's connection to other charismatic
religious spirits in history.Marie Antoinette, Mr. Mageye
the magus-Jester of History and the Carnival Lord Death help
Bone to put Jonestown into proper historical perspective.
Harris also examines the place of the spirit
and soul in the cosmic concept of endless time which binds
us all together. If you enjoy Latin American writers and
you want to discover the magical side of Caribbean writing,
I recommend this book. You will never think about time in the
same way again. Debbie Jacob (firstname.lastname@example.org)