Folks are saying
About Disposable People….
Read the Jamaica Observer Newspaper review here.
As a Caribbean native I can fully appreciate and understand the author’s desire to chronicle his early experiences living on the fringe of society. This poignant, hilarious and candid memoir rings true and hits home hard, and unlike some others in the genre, never comes over as derogatory or offensive.
Indeed the language is raw, and the creolese may be befuddling to non-Caribbean readers, but the meaning and sentiment is always conveyed with complete honesty and clarity. To his immense credit, the author does not try to tie his observances together with a flimsy attempt at a plot, and does not promote his thoughts and experiences as being applicable to all people living on the island. This is the Jamaica that you won’t see from your Ocho Rios beach chair.
Told as a series of short stories with intermittent poetry, the author covers not only daily life back in the day in the Third World Caribbean, but folklore, promiscuity, family relations, celebrations and politics, among others. To be honest, I read it in one sitting as I didn’t want to put it down. Highly recommended for those seeking a true West Indian experience. – Amanda Richards, April 14, 2012 (Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer)
“Disposable People”, which is inspired by true events, is a brutal yet sensitive, shocking yet amusing, story about a Jamaican boy’s journey to enlightened adulthood, finding and following a thread of hope out of a place of wretchedness. It was a real privilege, as a reader, to have been welcomed to share the deeper parts of the psyche and difficult memories that the author, Ezekel Alan, undoubtedly drew upon to create this piece. I was transported to another world, where I was appalled, moved, shaken by laughter and given liberal dollops of food for thought, in equal measures. A masterful effort by a talented and unique writer. – Waspishwit, PR Consultant
This is a quite stunning (and in places shocking!) debut novel from Mr. Alan. It tells the story of a young Jamaican boy growing up in quite extreme poverty in the 70s and 80s and tells it from the point of view of the boy himself, now a successful consultant in Asia. If you like charming, complex and unreliable narrators, as I do, this is right up your street. The variety in the language and the rhythms that the narrator uses in telling his tale are both stimulating and at times unsettling as you are left wondering about the narrator’s mental state while he tries to come to terms with some of the terrible memories of his childhood. Most of the humor in the book is quite dark, but expertly timed/pitched and, I believe, deliberately placed to add to the sense that the narrator is troubled (the only exception is a poor joke about Anfield, although even this adds to the impression that the narrator is not to be trusted). As I’ve already hinted at, the writing is generally of a very high standard and you see can that this is a writer equally comfortable working through poetry, prose or even drama (some of the set piece dialogue is excellent). I think the book that this most reminded me of is Angela’s Ashes, although it is quite different in style, there are some clear parallels in the experiences of the protagonists in these two books and, I suspect, in what the authors were trying to achieve. Having said that, this book is quite different in style and eschews the straight narrative approach for a much more inventive and challenging structure. This is a book I can see myself reading more than once and I firmly expect to read it again in a few years just because there’s such depth and imagination to it that I expect to get something new out of it every time I pick it up. – L. Hughes (USA)
From the onset of his provocative and captivating novel, Disposable People, Ezekel Alan lures and guides readers through each disturbing childhood experience of Kenneth E.S. Lovelace, or Kenny, using a unique yet effective ‘stream-of-consciousness’ writing style. Alan masterfully manages to pull me with him through regions of Jamaica that are often removed from the view of outsiders and tourists: areas rifed with abject poverty, misery and hopelessness; areas steeped in a “fog” of despicable and wretched despair; Jamaica’s so-called Depression and “that hateful f…ing place”. Disposable People held me captive and I felt as though I was there with Lovelace, living each haunting experience with him like one of his unfortunate, trapped and miserable childhood friends. While the book pokes through Lovelace’s past, it simultaneously forces readers to explore their past and examine events that shaped their lives: childhood experiences and how those experiences molded our deepest, innermost feelings of ourselves and others. As a fellow Jamaican, the book brought to the forefront of my mind disquieting memories of a distant past and Alan skillfully reminds us that our past follows like our shadow. Lovelace’s striking childhood experiences are described in his dairy entries to his “true love”, Semicolon, and are often in vignettes that possess vivid, disturbing imageries. However, occasionally I found myself wishing that some of these vignettes were a bit longer as their brevity made some of the stories appear incomplete and had me wishing for more to read. This may be a testimony to Alan’s unique brand of sarcastic humor and compelling stories. Adding to the book’s intrigue, Lovelace’s intense period-specific poems and artistic renderings are interspersed throughout, providing a welcoming change in rhythm. Admittedly, I was confused by the jumping timelines in some areas of the book, for example in one paragraph Lovelace is 10 years old, and in another paragraph of the same chapter he is in his 30’s, then he is back to being 10 years old again. While this timeline may be a consequence of Alan’s ‘stream-of-consciousness’ writing style, the downside of this approach is that some stories may seem choppy and difficult to follow. Nonetheless, Alan’s Disposable People will all-at-once shock and anger you at some point, force you into self-introspection at another point, then throw you into a fit of laughter at the next. An unforgettable read! – N. Bewry, USA—- Disposable People by Ezekel Alan
Poverty and desperation describe the start of life for Kenneth E.S. Lovelace, or Kenny. Born into a squatters village called a “Depression” in 1970’s Jamaica, he struggles with all the dangers and trials of poverty. He and his kind, living in one-room self-built houses on someone else’s land, are “Disposable People.” Kenny shows us his world through a collection of diary entries written to Semicolon, his true love. Peppered with bits of his writing collection, poetry, and reminiscence over time we gradually hear his tale. This novel takes a train-of-thought approach to Kenny’s experiences. A progression of understanding, rather than a chronology, takes the reader scene by scene through his childhood and out of the Depression, or “That hateful f***ing place”, and into his life as a successful author, far from the squalor of his childhood. Ezekel Alan’s book wowed me throughout the book. Kenny is thoughtful and honest, confessing all his sins to Semicolon. Ezekel displays gorgeous poetry, joy, beauty, culture, ideals, horror, sin, murder, fear, suspicion and faith, all surging through his tale. The graphic nature of many of Kenny’s experiences are often witnessed while Kenny and his cousins eavesdropped without shame “because we all knew that everything we did was being quietly observed by the cold unblinking eyes of Eternity.” It’s all part of the honesty and depth of every bit of the book. Kenny bared his soul to Semicolon, telling her what he experienced and valued, but also what he felt, learned, and how he failed. Scandalous or horrific scenes are highlighted with a knowing, dark humor, but contain profound lessons learned. There seemed to be a kind of love/hate relationship between Kenny and his old home. Though he describes it with stark and unforgiving frankness, he does so with an underlying pride and affection. Even the source of the book is mysterious and poetic, “A Novel Inspired by True Events”. Somehow I heard the voice of my own grandmother, transported across time, culture, race, and nationality. I guess some opinions appear everywhere: “If he had gone to church, none of this would have ever happened to him.” – Kate Policani, Author of The Disenchanted Pethttp://katepolicani.com http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/katepolicani https://www.createspace.com/3657962 (Amazon) http://tinyurl.com/5sr9ry6 ———-
“Riveting, vivid, raw, yet authentic; reading about the experiences of Kenneth Lovelace will leave you on the edge of your seat. What else can we say about this ten-year-old protagonist and his supporting casts? Ezekel Alan takes a daring dive into the life of his protagonist, showing readers what it was like growing up in a poor neighborhood of Jamaica during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The author does so with a great deal of humor. At times, however, the pathos is overwhelming, as he captures what it was like for a young boy to grow up ‘dirt’ poor: the squalor, the possibly? avoidable tragedies, and such. But he also shows the indomitable spirit of a person dreaming of a better life. The title of the book seems to reflect the fact that not only do others see the characters as ‘disposable’, but that they also saw themselves in that way, accepting everyday tragedies and injustices as though they were normal. The characters feel real, not fabricated, and based on how they come across it is hard at times to tell whether to pity and embrace or despise them. Ultimately, the characters are people that only the most privileged among us will find hard to identify with. Mr. Alan has done a truly remarkable job of encapsulating the plight of the poor while reminding us that even in poverty there is humanity, laughter, pride, and ambition. The story is delivered in a very unique style, accentuated by short chapters and pithy poems. I thoroughly enjoyed the read!” – Coults Manning, Dacula, Georgia, USA
“Disposable People is a book about one man’s journey from a desperately poor Third World community to finding his true self on the global stage. The book reveals a dark, painful childhood full of very little hope other than one’s educational ability to achieve and slowly move out of the “Depression”. This is a compelling story weaved together by a literary grace that had me laughing so hard at times and then had me in tears at other moments as we go on this journey of self-exploration with the author. I was intrigued from the first page right through to the very end and was left with the poignant question: “Can one truly go forward without going back?”. A definite must read!” – Miss Anonymous, Bonafide Jamaican