Joan Barbara Simon’s ‘Long Time Walk on Water’, is a phenomenon. There’s nothing ordinary, pedestrian, or conventional in this story of love, lust, prejudice, violence and parental brutality.
An adherent of secular, as opposed to faith-based, philosophy, I’m already biased against the cruel, arbitrary, and unjust interpretation of so-called sacred myths that spread brutality and inconsistent tradition as an intrinsic aspect of their hypocritical proselytising. So there are facets of this complex and undeniably brilliant piece of work that, for me, may work against the author’s intentions.
Nevertheless, the characters are exquisitely drawn and depicted free of authorial judgment. I heartily loathed some of them for their unthinking clinging to the ways of their ignorant parents, but others I found inspiring with their courage and forbearance.
The author is fair in her depiction of both genders, though I found most of the men to be quite justly given a negative slant I felt they fully deserved.
Whilst I have real sympathy for the inclusion of Jamaican patois, I felt too much of the novel was conveyed in this esoteric lingo. Combined with the frequent time shifts, the dialect served as much to confuse this reader as to educate, inform and entertain him. Sometimes, the modern aphorism ‘less is more’ has validity!
Racial prejudice is shown to be equally prevalent amongst Jamaicans as it is among Brits. And, in both cases, it’s clear such prejudice is the child of ignorance educated by intolerant tradition.
This is a fascinating book and I found it entertaining, frustrating, informative, startling, depressing, elevating and engaging. By no means easy, it is nonetheless a book I’m very glad to have read.
[A review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can provide is an honest reaction to any given book.]