Jason D. Hill
Chicago, Illinois, United States
I was born and raised in Jamaica and emigrated to the United States in 1985 at the age of twenty to become a novelist. I am Associate Professor of Philosophy at De Paul University. I am also the author of three books: Becoming a Cosmopolitan: What it Means to Be a Human Being in the New Millennium (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), Beyond Blood Identities: Post Humanity in the Twenty-First Century (Lexington Books, 2009), and When We Should Not Get Along: Navigating Cultural Differences (Anthem Press, January, 2011). I have studied poetry and creative writing in addition to philosophy.
I have just finished a novel, called "Jamaica Preacher Man," which is both a coming of age story of a young boy discovering his homosexuality against the backdrop of a violent socialist regime in 1970s Jamaica, as well as a massive multi-generational family and political saga of Jamaica from the 19th century up to the 1970s.
My poetry has been published in the Caribbean Review of Books.
ABOUT JAMAICA PREACHER MAN
Jamaica Preacher Man is the coming of age story of a twelve-year-old boy in Jamaica. Set primarily in the violent socialist regime of Michael Manley during the 1970s, but in the United States as well, Brockton Findley, the book’s protagonist, learns painfully to accept his emerging homosexuality in an extremely homophobic country that kills gay people on sight, and to come to terms with the brutal rape and murder of his best friend, Sonya. Sonya’s death is one among many murders and rapes of friends that Brockton endures in the country’s volatile political milieu. Much of the novel centers on the close relationship between Brockton and his father, Basil. We see, along with Brockton, the man’s descent into madness, as he comes to believe that he is Jesus Christ. Brockton endures a traumatic purification ritual conducted by his father to heal him of his homosexuality that could have cost him his life.
The novel is also a political and family saga of both the maternal and paternal sides of Brockton’s family. Told in both the first person and the third person voices, the novel introduces us to Brockton’s maternal great-grandfather and great-great grandfather, Sephardic Jews who left Syria for Jamaica in the 19th century. The story unpacks their marriages, the lives of their children, and the hardships they endured as Jews in the British colonies. Jamaica Preacher Man offers a rare glimpse into 19th-century Jewish Jamaica right after the emancipation of slavery and the triumph of one Jewish man in the face of immense prejudice.
We learn why Brockton’s paternal grand-father, Charles Findley, came to be placed in a detention camp by the British government in 1943. Charles was the country’s leading pioneer in the independence movement—a communist who preached revolutionary insurgency, a trade unionist, and author. During his detention his wife, Anna, was pregnant with their fifth child. We come to understand the nature of the painful love affair between Anna and Colin Montgomery, the British officer who was Charles’ personal jailer, and just how close that affair came to costing her husband his freedom.
Jamaica Preacher Man is a novel about relationships and how they indelibly mark the lives of those who are coerced into them. It is the story of Brockton’s intense relationship with a possessive mother whose emotional security lies in his hands. It is about his estrangement from his brother, Yannick, to whom he was close before his mother claimed him, Brockton, as her favorite. The novel is about the only safe haven the boy can find in this world: dreams of living in America and the company of his maternal grandmother, whose husband committed suicide in the presence of his two grandchildren, Yannick and Brockton. Not only does Brockton have to deal with this tragedy in the midst of a severe drought, massive power outages, and states of emergency, in the end he must also make a choice between his father and the world he longs to live in, America—a choice that will forever change his life and destiny.
Interests: Writing poetry, writing novels, wrting philosophy books. Writing! Writing! and reading
Published writer: Yes