The Book of Night Women

The Book of Night Women is a 2009 novel by Jamaican author Marlon James. The book was first published in hardback on February 19, 2009, by Riverhead Books. The story follows Lilith, a young woman born into slavery, who challenges the boundaries of what is expected of her.

The Book of Night Women
Author Marlon James
Country United States, United Kingdom/Australia
Language English
Subject Eighteenth century, slavery
Genre Fiction
Published 2009, Riverhead Books, North America; Oneworld Publications, UK/Australia/NZ
Media type Print, e-book, audiobook
Pages 417 pages
ISBN 1594488576 (North America);
ISBN 9781780746524 (UK/Australia/NZ)


Lilith is a beautiful young woman born during the 18th century on a Jamaican sugar plantation. Orphaned from birth, she quickly learns that life as a slave can be frequently brutal and unkind. After she is forced to defend herself against a would-be rapist, she is sent to work in the plantation owner's house. There she tries to win the master's affections, despite warnings from a fellow slave that this will only end badly. Lilith experiences more troubles when the Night Women, a group of female slaves planning a revolt, ask her to join in their plans.


Critical reception for The Book of Night Women has been predominantly positive.[1][2] The New York Times praised the novel highly and stated that while its themes can make it difficult to read at times, this works in the book's favor as it is both disturbing and eloquent.[3] The Los Angeles Times, who also praised the novel, commented on the themes of brutality: "The novel can be unrelentingly violent, and the litany of terror, torture and revenge is long and horrifically detailed. But if that seems rather grim, it's nothing in comparison with how it must have been to the slaves."[4]


Further reading


  1. ^ Long, Karen (April 27, 2010). "Marlon James' 'The Book of Night Women' casts a powerful spell in story about Jamaican slave revolt in 18th century". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Lumet Buckley, Gail (February 17, 2010). "'The Book of Night Women,' by Marlon James". Washington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  3. ^ Glover, Kaiama (February 26, 2010). "Womanchild in the Oppressive Land". New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  4. ^ Straight, Susan (March 8, 2010). "'The Book of Night Women' by Marlon James". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "J'can Marlon James scoops US book prize". Jamaica Observer. September 23, 2010. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  6. ^ Laurie Hertzel (April 17, 2010). "Wayzata, St. Paul writers lead Minnesota Book Award winners". Star Tribune. Retrieved May 10, 2014.

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