December 14, 2017

‘Kamarang’ by Micheal Jordon

A Book Review by Petamber Persaud

The power of the written words in this new Guyanese novel, “Kamarang”, will bewitch and haunt, thrill and satisfy, educate and entertain, the reader from the eerie beginning to the bewildering end, gnawing at the reader’s entrails, sucking at the reader’s grey matter long after the end is revealed and the mystery solved because the end will beset the reader with a new goal – a longing to learn more about the inexhaustible heritage of the land known throughout the world from the 16th century and onwards as El Dorado.
“Kamarang” is the first novel by Michael Jordan, a journalist and an investigative reporter whose interest in cold cases and unsolved crimes has and continues to treat Guyanese and non-Guyanese readers with fascinating and intriguing stories. In fact, he is the recipient of PAHO Award for Best News Story in 1994 and the Award of High Commendation for Assisting in the Solving of a Cold Case in 2016.
Jordan’s interest in writing and in the macabre was influenced firstly by his parents. His father, Walter A. Jordan, was an avid reader and a writer. The elder Jordan was well-known for his column, ‘Watch your Language’. Jordan’s mother ‘consumed works of Poe and other masters of horror’ while pregnant with him and she also presented him with his first collection of ghost stories when he was twelve.
“Kamarang” is a supernatural tale which unfolds with a fine balance of terror and horror set against Guyanese myths, legends and folklore – Bush Dai Dai, Kanaima, Mermaid and others. The story is centred on Michael Jones and Lucille – the most beautiful and sensual woman Michael has ever known, a women much sought after by all men she encounters and envied by all women crossing her path. One of the mystifying aspects of Lucille is that she takes nothing in payment for her service from men she favours; those men pay the ultimate price. The supporting characters, on Michael’s side include his father, his mother and grandmother, all with skeletons in their respective closet. The supporting character on Lucille’s side is a shape-shifter.
The novel is set in the capital city of Georgetown, dotted with hotels cum brothels cum whorehouses mainly frequented by gold miners/prospectors and in Kamarang, an interior location often referred to as the gold bush where men make and lose their fortune and where some prostitutes make a fortune or die trying.
Michael Jones is healthy boy in his late teens with a strong physique influenced by his idol Bruce Lee. He grows up in a Christian home and community and he is also sexually active. This leads by a series of uncanny attractions to a well-known brothel where he forms a strange sexual relationship with Lucille, a relationship that sucks his strength and vitality, leaving him broken yet he goes back for more pleasure and punishment.
The story unfolds as one by one the skeletons in the cupboards are freed by way of revelation or intense introspection, bringing shame and sometimes remorse. There are as many moments of déjà vu as there are parallels in events in the city and in Kamarang even the motifs are not dissimilar in both locations including the deaths by fire, the drinking of cider by the main female player, her perfume affecting men familiar with its odour, dreams and the silk cotton tree.
Apart from the flashbacks filling out the story, there were foreshadowing of how and when to deal with this ‘thing’. Getting rid of it fell to Michael.
And when the time was ripe, characters from the past and the present, from remote areas and from the city, are brought together by fear, by fear of the unknown to pit their human frailties aided by a little knowledge and binas/charms against the unknown evil.
“Kamarang” by Michael Jordan is available at Austin’s or can be uplifted from Michael Jordan. He can be contacted on 545-2447 or kamarangnight@gmail.com
Responses to this author please telephone 226-0065 of email: oraltradition2002@yahoo.com

What’s happening:
Over GYD$1,000,000 in prize monies up for grabs in the 2018 issue of The Guyana Annual. Closing date for entries to the various competitions is November 30, 2017. For further information go The Guyana Annual on Facebook or email: theguyanaannual@gmail.com (Guyana Times Sunday Magazine)