Jamaican Author Dwight Thompson Delivers Hard-Hitting Coming-Of-Age Tale With Debut Novel
Peepal Tree Press recently announced the publication of Death Register.
In this searingly honest debut novel, Jamaican author Dwight Thompson fearlessly and candidly explores themes of homophobia, emerging sexuality, identity, and the devastating effects of abuse.
Chauncey Knuckle, as both a developing writer and the protagonist in this coming-of-age tale, is presented with honesty and humanity, and he is brought to life with a true ambivalence that is only fitting for such a complex character.
Set at a pivotal stage of his life, about to move away to university, Chauncey reflects on his life and the decisions he has made that have come to define who he is as a person. He considers his strained relationship with his best friend Tristan, whom he failed to protect against an abusive elder in the community when they were children, and his attitude towards Tristan’s sexuality – has Chauncey become defined by his college, an elite and archaic institution built on hypermasculinity and still infected with the hangovers of colonialism, or are his flaws intrinsically linked to his character?
It is through his writing that Chauncey attempts to unspool the feelings and experiences that have shaped him – his style, shown through his journals and stories throughout the novel, is sometimes brutal in its frankness, but it is always eloquent and always incisive.
Dwight Thompson says: ‘The idea for the novel began with a persistent sentence in my head: “I’ve never felt safe in this place; I was always trying to escape, through grades or talent, and I’ve moved among a pack of well-educated wolves more out of a sense of general obligation than out of any particular private ambition.” When I wrote this down, exactly as it occurred to me, I realized it was only a starting point in theory, not something to be actually included in the story. But I knew the main character had to be a writer, and that his notepad is both a literal and metaphorical way of showing he has much more to do than his aspiration to write. He had to aspire to be a better person.’
Dwight Thompson is a Jamaican who works as an English teacher in Japan. His writing has been included in The Caribbean Writer, where he won the Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize, as well as the Montego Bay Western Mirror and Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean. In 2012, a story of his was shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary Competition.
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