Author: Kwame Dawes
Publisher: Akashic Books (2019)
When Ferron Morgan's father dies in suspicious circumstances, his trauma is exacerbated by the conflict within his family and among his father's friends over whether the death was the result of medical negligence or if it was a political assassination. Ferron grew up in awe of his father's radical political endeavors, but in later years he watched as the resurgence of the political right in the Caribbean in the 1980s robbed the man of his faith.
Ferron's response to the death is further complicated by guilt, particularly over his failure to protect his fiancée from a brutal assault. He begins to investigate the direction of his life with great intensity, in particular his instinct to keep moving on and running from trouble.
This is a sharply focused portrayal of Jamaica at a tipping point in its recent past, in which the private grief and trauma condenses a whole society's scarcely understood sense of temporariness and dislocation.
"Bivouac speaks in tongues so that the reader hears both the market and the courtroom, the orchestra of ancestral voices and the tone of individual conscience. Kwame Dawes's novel laughs and mourns, claps hands for the inventive communal spirit, and wrings those same hands as a result of political malfeasance. I was thrilled to see the writer channel his father's prose and summon pre-independence Jamaica. As readers we should celebrate Bivouac because of its celebration of Jamaica and, by extension, the Caribbean. The novel is replete with generational continuity and loyalty, from father to son, mother to child, the dead and the writer charged with the task of being custodian of their spirits."
"Kwame Dawes brings the beauty and subtle rhythms of his poetic voice to this moving, dreamlike novel where the past intercedes on the present. A deep pleasure to read and savor."