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Disposable People was a very difficult story for me to write, and for many reasons. A few readers and reviewers have commented that the novel reads like a memoir, and that the pain and emotions are so palpable that it is hard to regard it as a work of fiction. They are right - much of what is in the story is based on things that happened to me growing up.
It took me close to two years to write the book, not because I didn't know the story I wanted to write, but because I wasn't sure I wanted to tell it. If one day you go home from school hungry (again) because you didn't have breakfast or lunch and you ask your mother what's for dinner, and her response is "Shit", this memory will stay with you, but you will always be ashamed to talk about it. I struggled with writing about these things partly because I didn't want to dishonor the memories of all the people I grew up with, many of whom have now died. In the same way, I've seen many dreadful things happen to the poor folks in our neighbourhood - murders, rapes, child abuse, and the brutal beatings and punishments meted out to gays and thieves. Before I could write about these things, I had to think hard about the image people have of Jamaica, and whether if I told the stories about the things I saw, heard, and participated in, people would think that I was unpatriotic or, as we say back home, a "sell-out" (betrayer).
I love my country. It is the only place I will call home, and someday I hope to retire there. But the time came when I felt I had to tell this story. It is a work of fiction, but perhaps too much of it is true.
I am very surprised and deeply grateful for all the kind reviews and comments I have received so far. It has given me confidence and courage to write my next novel, which is now half-way complete.
Ezekel Alan is a Jamaican business consultant working in Asia. He lives with his wife and kids, and has a good reliable dog. "Disposable People" is his debut novel. Ezekel blogs at www.ezekelalan.com.