Official Book Synopsis
Written in modified Jamaican patois, Powell traces the life of Gwennie, a strong woman who plays the role of wife and mother while suffering through a loveless and violently abusive marriage to Walter. Faced with choice of remain a victim to her duties or flee from the cruelties of her everyday life, Gwennie decides to start anew and embrace the pressures of sudden and laudable change. Me Dying Trial ambitiously conveys what goes unspoken–issues regarding identity, homosexuality, religion, and personal afflictions, and how often that strong sense of community holds us back from growing.
I have been wanting to read this for years but I just never got around to it until now. It’s been on my Goodreads shelf since 2013, and after the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival (BCLF) celebrated the 20 year anniversary of the book, it has really shot up in priority!
As part of BCLF’s celebration, I was asked to read and excerpt from Me Dying Trial which got me really excited about the book. After reading the excerpt I wasn’t been able to put the book down. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to finally read it!
I tried listening to the audio book but I couldn’t. Which made me realize that I may have more tolerance for a book that’s not with a Jamaican accent because if the Jamaican accent not authentic, I can’t focus on the story.
Me Dying Trial, is written in a proper patois/patwa format that made me prefer to read than listen. What even is proper patois/patwa? For purposes of this review, it’s an easier to read version of the spoken language.
“Me Dying Trial” is a Jamaican expression usually used in exclamation of something, something said or someone.
The characters are so real they jump off the page. The characters will make you feel angry, frustrated, they will make you laugh. Because you recognize one or more of them either in your community, church or family. And the emotions they experience – you know of someone or maybe you experience it yourself. I also liked the book was set back in Jamaica and travelled through the decades from the 70s to the 90s.
Don’t be like me and take a long time to read this really great book – Me Dying Trial.
About the Author
Patricia Powell was born in Jamaica and moved with her family to the United States in 1982. Powell has taught creative writing at Harvard University, Wellesley College, MIT, and Standford University, and is currently Professor of English at Mills College in California. She is the author four novels, including Me Dying Trial, A Small Gathering of Bones (Beacon Press, 2003), The Pagoda (Harcourt, 1999), and The Fullness of Everything (Peepal Tree Press, 2009).