The Book of Night Women

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The Book of Night Women
Author Marlon James
Country United States
Language English
Subject Eighteenth century, slavery
Genre Fiction
Published 2009, Riverhead Books
Media type Print, e-book, audiobook
Pages 417 pages
ISBN 1594488576

The Book of Night Women is a 2009 fiction novel by Jamaican author Marlon James. The book was first published in hardback on February 19, 2009 through Riverhead Books and follows Lilith, a young woman born into slavery that challenges the boundaries of what is expected of her.


Lilith is a beautiful young woman born during the eighteenth century in a Jamaican sugar plantation. Orphaned from birth, she quickly learns that life as a slave can be frequently brutal and unkind. After Lilith is forced to defend herself against a would-be rapist, she's sent to work in the plantation owner's house. There she tries to gain win over the master's affections despite warnings from a fellow slave that this will only end badly. Lilith experiences more troubles when the Night Women, a groups of female slaves planning a revolt, ask her to join in their plans.


Critical reception for The Book of Night Women has been predominantly positive.[1][2] The New York Times praised The Book of the Night Women highly and stated that while the book's themes can make it difficult to read at times, this works in the book's favor as it made it both disturbing and eloquent.[3] The Los Angeles Times, who also praised the novel, also commented on the novel's themes of brutality, writing that "The novel can be unrelentingly violent, and the litany of terror, torture and revenge is long and horrifically detailed. But if that seems rather grim, it's nothing in comparison with how it must have been to the slaves."[4]



  1. ^ Long, Karen. "Marlon James' 'The Book of Night Women' casts a powerful spell in story about Jamaican slave revolt in 18th century". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Lumet Buckley, Gail. ""The Book of Night Women," by Marlon James". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Glover, Kaiama. "Womanchild in the Oppressive Land". NYT. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Straight, Susan. "'The Book of Night Women' by Marlon James". LAT. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "J'can Marlon James scoops US book prize". Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Wayzata, St. Paul writers lead Minnesota Book Award winners". Star Tribune. Retrieved 10 May 2014.