By the rivers of Babylon: French edition of Kei Miller’s “Augustown”


Kei Miller’s Augustown has been published in French with the title By the Rivers of Babylon. The blog e-Karbé reports that it was translated from the English by Nathalie Carré, and published by Éditions Zulma. The following is my translation of excerpts from a post by e-Karbé:

Miller was awarded the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature in 2017 with a novel whose origins lie in a neighborhood in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, the author’s native land.

2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature: Augustown, Kingston’s poor neighborhood. On this afternoon in April 1982, Kaia returns from school. Ma Taffy is waiting for her, sitting on her veranda. The grandmother does not see anymore, but she recognizes among all things the heady, invasive smell of the calamity that is approaching. For today, at school, Mr. Saint-Josephs committed an irreparable act: he cut Kaia’s dreadlocks—absolute sacrilege among the Rastafari. And Ma Taffy trembles, she who is not shaken by anything, not even the head of the Angola gang nor the incursions of Babylon, with all sirens screaming.

It seems that in Augustown, Jamaica, the day of the autoclapse—the disaster with promises of an apocalypse—is once again happening. So, to save time with the growing threat, Ma Taffy tells Kaia how she witnessed, as a young girl in the midst of an immense crowd, the true ascent of Alexander Bedward, the Flying Preacher…  By the rivers of Babylon is a powerful novel, a beautiful song of resistance and liberation.

Kei Miller lives in the UK. After L’authentique Pearline Portious [also translated from the original—The Last Warner Woman (2012)—by Nathalie Carré, and published by Éditions Zulma in 2016] his first novel translated into French, By the rivers of Babylon has the force of a true accomplishment.

For original post (in French), see

Also see and our previous post

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