|La-ser||Date: Wednesday, 2011-06-15, 8:48 PM | Message # 1|
|Ian Thomson’s book “The Dead Yard,” a bleak and prickly survey of Jamaica’s past and present, takes its title from one of that country’s funeral practices. When someone dies, those who loved him or her gather around the dead person’s house for a wake that can last as long as nine days. These events are often ecstatic; they’re akin to reggae versions of a New Orleans jazz funeral. People dance, the author writes, as if possessed by ghosts. Mr. Thomson’s book is its own murmuring convocation of ghosts. He works his way through Jamaica’s blighted history notably its three centuries under England’s colonial thumb, an epoch during which many Jamaicans were bound into slavery on sugar plantations only to describe a present that seems almost equally grim.