Sting of the Bee

Seth Rolbein, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-312-00688-4
Summoned back to Jamaica by his dying father, young Martinson Sanders, his smug sense of security founded on a Boston education and his mother's professorial status, steps off the plane at Montego Bay already nervous about the back-country living he will encounter. As Sanders slips unconsciously into the customs of the people among whom he spent his first 13 years, comes to revere his father's wisdom and courage, and learns to respect village loyalties, the question of where he belongs becomes increasingly pressing. So thoroughly has he been acculturated and accepted, however, that until his mother arrives for his father's funeral, his certainty about the importance of his Jamaican heritage is unshaken. But her presence in the old house turns his own existence there into an anachronism, and he wonders whether any solution is possible. Although the ambiance of the island and its peope are so accurately rendered that Marty's reluctance to leave is credible, the charactersare unshaded and Marty himself emerges as not much more than a device to mirror the two worlds. At least half of this first novel, moreover, is written in the argot peculiar to Jamaica and while this may lend verisimilitude, it does not make for an easy read. (August 17)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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