Dread Culture: A Rastawoman's Story

Description

189 pages
$12.95
ISBN 0-920813-53-4
DDC C813'.54

Year

1994

Contributor

Reviewed by John LeBlanc

John LeBlanc teaches English at Okanagan University College in Kelowna,
B.C.

Review

This novel, which introduces Toronto’s Jamaican community to the
Canadian reading public, unsettles rather than indulges expectations
about this little-known and less-understood part of Canadian society.

Ostensibly focused on Sheba, the Rastawoman of the title, the novel
uses its neutral third-person narration to move among a number of
characters connected to her. Complementing this refusal to adopt a
single controlling consciousness is the novel’s emphasis on
dialogue—consisting mostly of Jamaican patois—over symbol, metaphor,
and even description. The reader experiences the characters directly,
through their speech, and must analyze their behavior and words without
being told by the author how to do so. For example, Iration Dread,
Sheba’s sometime lover, encompasses both the healing power of
Rastafarian spirituality and its paternalistic tendency to abuse women.
Like Sheba, the reader is perplexed by the complexity of his character,
a condition that is only reinforced by the indeterminacy of the plot,
which comprises a series of loosely related crises and lacks a clear
conclusion.

Because it disrupts many of the narrative traditions novelists live by,
Dread Culture may be passed over by a general readership attached to
writing that is vivid, metaphorical, stylish. Masani Montague’s
sobering and thought-provoking alternative confronts the reader with the
black-and-white reality immigrants face in Canadian society.

Citation

Montague, Masani., “Dread Culture: A Rastawoman's Story,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1402.