Augustown by Kei Miller

Augustown

Kei Miller

When a vicious teacher hacks off a young boy's dreadlocks he creates an event known as the autoclaps- a catastrophe that feeds into the very soul of the fictional Jamaican town of Augustown, building on past events, racial inequalities and the oppressive nature of the Babylon ruling classes. Jumping through stories from 1920-1982 and inspired by history, this story written in patois is lyrical, evocative, and tense.

Extract

Bongo Moody seems to have a greater sense of purpose. He positions himself directly in front of the school gate and pulls his djembe drum out of its bag. His hands begin to fall lightly on the goatskinned instrument, and he pulls the crowd into the hollow of its sound. He has a fine singing voice, and he makes it ring out over the schoolyard.

Hear the words of the Rastaman say
Babylon yu throne gone down, gone down
Babylon yu throne gone down ...


The air feels like death, The sun dips behind a cloud and a coolness that could be rain but that isn't rain sweeps over the landscape. Bongo Moody plays and the crowd sings behind him.

Parallels
  • Greenwich Town by Joyce Palmer
  • Satellite City by Alecia McKenzie