The Last Warner Woman

Kei Miller. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-56689-295-7
Beautifully imaginative and structurally inventive, Miller’s second novel (after The Same Earth) tells the story of Adamine Bustamante, an orphan raised in a leper colony in Spanish Town, Jamaica, whose gift of “warning” leads her to join the Revivalist Church. When Adamine immigrates to England in search of a better life, she is locked up in a mental asylum for preaching her doomsday views. Years later, released from the institution, she meets “Mr. Writer Man,” a young author interested in telling her story. Miller’s narrative alternates between Adamine’s first-person account, told in a colorful and soul-baring patois, and sections recounted, mostly in the third person, by Mr. Writer Man. The two viewpoints at times conflict in illuminating ways, but Mr. Writer Man’s reflections on truth, history, and literature pale next to the plot’s more immediate concerns: spirituality, violence against women, and migration, to name a few. Miller’s talents as a storyteller come to the fore in the book’s climactic final chapters, when previously withheld plot details are revealed, tying the book together. The challenge for the reader is to get through the opening chapters, whose leaps in time and shifts in point of view slow the story. But it’s worth the effort. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/19/2011
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-7538-2808-3
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-56689-305-3
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-297-86080-8
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