Jamaica Magazine

Book Review: Disposable People

Written by Staff Writer

Ezekel Alan draws on his personal memories to create a compelling and emotionally charged story of Kenneth Lovelace as he grows up in a darkly superstitious, crudely sexual, poor and increasingly violent village in rural Jamaica.

About the book
Ten year old Kenneth Lovelace often went to bed without dinner. Instead of feeling hunger, however, what he mostly felt was fear and shame, knowing that his family’s poverty was the reason he had no food. Kenneth also recalls his bitterness whenever his parents locked him out of their tiny, one-room house to act on their ‘urge’. This was in the 1970s, when Jamaica’s socialist regime was dragging the country into bankruptcy, and when an Old Timer had told him that he was cursed since birth.
 
Beginning with his earliest memories, Disposable People traces the life of Kenneth Lovelace, now a consultant living in the USA. After a string of failed marriages, bad relationships and other misfortunes, Kenneth looks back at his life in his old, hateful village with hopes of finding the roots of his latest tragedy. What comes out is a story of mischiefs and adventures, sex, evil spirits, adversities and, progressively, violence.


Reviews

“The pain and passion in this freewheeling text is so palpable that it is hard to regard it as fiction. It reads like a memoir, a record of hurts and darkly humorous short stories woven together with diary entries and line drawings, redolent with clever raunchiness and with language that rivals a text by Anthony Winkler.
 
(It is) a brilliant and often innovative offering that falls less in the realm of the West Indian tradition and more in the way of American postmodernist black humour, reminiscent of the work of Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse Five. Ezekel Alan has constructed a masterpiece of searing memories of his childhood in “that hateful f-ing place” in order to come to terms with them, heal himself, and honour those of the poor and victimised – the “disposable people”.
 
Ezekel Alan writes with an intensity that astonishes. This is a rousing text, full of energy and venom, and tells multiple stories of ‘disposable people” while building an understanding of the lot of Jamaica’s poorer children.
 
Alan is brilliant in his analysis of Kenny Lovelace’s relationship with his father and in the stories of abuse that most of the children suffered at the hands of the village men. His novel is a wail of agony wrapped in spritely prose, deepened with irony and a bitter humour. It reads fast and packed with surprise and horror. This is no admiring chronicle of the values of the God-fearing Jamaican peasant but a searing account of the exigencies of poverty and superstition in a demanding environment.
 
It is a magnificent piece of work, combining different modes of storytelling including poetry, letters, journal writing, and sketched images, and covering a plethora of issues, including attitudes to homosexuality.
 
Alan has done a bang-up job of presenting the memories of the boy he once was and the collective memories of the village he came from.
 
His coming to terms with these memories in a brilliantly innovative text is our gain and his salvation.” (See full on the Jamaica Observer website). – Mary Hanna, Bookends Review, the Jamaica Observer

“I was transported to another world, where I was shocked, moved, amused and given food for thought in equal measures!” – Emma Good, PR Consultant.

“Ezekel Alan’s book wowed me on so many levels…Ezekel displays gorgeous poetry, joy, beauty, culture, ideals, horror, sin, murder, fear, suspicion and faith, all surging through his tale.” – Kate Policani, Author of The Disenchanted Pet.

This is a quite stunning (and in places shocking!) debut novel from Mr. Alan. It tells the story of a young Jamaican boy growing up in quite extreme poverty in the 70s and 80s and tells it from the point of view of the boy himself, now a successful consultant in Asia.  This book is quite different in style and eschews the straight narrative approach for a much more inventive and challenging structure. This is a book I can see myself reading more than once and I firmly expect to read it again in a few years just because there’s such depth and imagination to it that I expect to get something new out of it every time I pick it up.” – Leonard Hughes, USA.

About the Author:
Ezekel Alan is a Jamaican business consultant working in Asia. He lives with his wife and kids, and has a good reliable dog. Disposable People is his debut novel; he is currently completing his second.

Where to Buy the Book:
Disposable People (ISBN 978-1467922739) is available for sale at amazon.com, Bookophilia bookstore in Kingston and other channels. (Please visit www.Ezekelalan.com for more information.)
 

About the author

Staff Writer