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General Fiction » Broken Gourds

Broken Gourds

by Beresford McLean

Published: 02 - 2016
Viewed: 35901 times

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Synopsis – Broken Gourds

Broken Gourds is "Inspirational Folklore." Written in the tradition of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, it is a portrait of humanity mirrored in the events of one Jamaican farming village. It considers the role of the intuitive mind in the form of a lowly healer whose mission is to empower the oppressed while fostering harmony and hope. His success attracts the temptations greed, hate, lust, and jealousy. These he must struggle to overcome. Broken Gourds a story of life. Those very elements which rocked that multi-ethnic community a century ago are still at the very core of all society, of life, today.

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Title: Broken Gourds
Author: Beresford McLean
ISBN: 0-9720017-5-1
LCCN: 200115159
Pages: 355
Published: 02 - 2016

Overview- Broken Gourds

Broken Gourds is set in Albion, Jamaica between 1880s and 1950s. Descendants of the British continue exploiting the progeny of African ex-slaves.

Dada, a simpleton and main character is born of lowly African parentage. In his late twenties, he becomes empowered with the gifts of preaching and healing. He changes his name to Brother Walk. His eclectic position pits him against the British. Brother Walk, however, magnetizes his African brethren. While attendance declines at the Baptist church and clinic and the former rich is faced with certain financial ruin, the proud, charismatic Brother Walk flourishes.

Beset with jealousy and hate, the Pastor asks the Police Inspector to investigate the Healer as a pretext for destroying him. The Inspector sends his and the pastor’s wife with fake ailments to trap Brother Walk. The attempts fail. The wives become allies of Brother Walk.


In a serious miscalculation, however, Brother Walk kidnaps a virgin for “religious” reasons. He is arrested.

Sparks fly. Albion is consumed by fear, hatred and revenge. As the drama escalates, Brother Walk must use his “medicine” to restore order.

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anancyeB on October 2, 2010 at 10:14 am
Redemption Song Broken Gourds is a touching metaphor of the human spirit--how we all stumble and rise again, if only we honestly look at ourselves. Brother Walk portrays a classic character who moves from innocence to power, to selfishness, to loss, and finally to wisdom: every hero's journey. Along the way, he is able to empower those around him and leave an entire village with a viable path into the future. It is a glimpse of the hidden Jamaica that still holds all of the magic we in the outside world hope exists in all of our humble attempts at community and progress and love. Beresford McLean writes his novel as if it were poetry, with each line, no matter how much struggle it may express, offering a smile and a light to guide his readers to a place where life just might makes sense. Broken Gourds in many ways reminds me of Achebe's Things Fall Apart, with a twist that shows how a culture is able to survive and laugh and perhaps even grow stronger when it's imperialistic predators have their backs turned. I highly recommend this beautiful, beautiful story of humanity at its sweetest.

Book Reviews:

Reviews – Broken Gourds

Beresford McLean in his novel Broken Gourds gives a colourful, picturesque, true-to-life, non-romanticised version of life in post-slavery Jamaica. His characters are sharp, distinct, non-political and, therefore, credible. The work is well written, well researched and imaginative. The vibrant colours on the cover as well as those described in the novel are easily acceptable as they link with the culture the village inherited from their ancestors. He shows cultural beliefs to be as natural as breathing.                                                                                      Franklene Frater – Jamaica Gleaner


Broken Gourds . . . A warm story of how one man’s transformation can move a people. Both well-crafted and revealing, this is an inspiring tale of humanity for readers of all ages.                                                                                                                                  Kirkus Discoveries

McLean composes his poetic tale (Broken Gourds) in full consciousness of the power of words. Forward Magazine  

Set in a small Jamaican farming village, Broken Gourds by Beresford McLean is the deftly written, and engaging story of a lowly healer who seeks to empower the suffering, yet who learns the hard way that with power comes immense temptation and the seven deadly sins. The eternal struggle of human nature and man at war with himself is exquisitely captured in this exotic yet empathetic tale.             Midwest Book Review

Broken Gourds paints an exceptional portrait of rural Jamaica and also serves as a great advertisement for its author. Beresford McLean is a gifted folklorist with a keen eye for storytelling who has spun an interesting and intriguing tale from contiguous slivers of Jamaican history and folklore. McLean’s clever intervening of supernatural forces also help to enhance the main thrust of the story and sustain its momentum. As a reader, at times, you expect an eruption with the surprising subplots, but the novel holds its equanimity to the end.

 M. Stephanie Browne – Guyana Journal

Broken Gourds is a must read in the understanding of and appreciation for the Jamaican society.        Caribbean Camera, Toronto, Ontario.

Broken Gourds . . . A folktale destined to be a classic. An exciting new voice in contemporary literature, McLean writes with a master's touch.         Beverley J. Rowe – Bevbooks


In Broken Gourds Beresford McLean brings the full plate of human failings to the table. He also gives the readers love, forgiveness and redemption. And in the end he shows the full circle of life. Hayworth - The Compulsive Reader

 The World in Microcosm. In Broken Gourds Beresford McLean has done something many writers never even attempt: he has taken the whole of humanity and put it into an observable context. In the remote Jamaican village of Albion McLean has created a society of people where sin, goodness, vengeance, and forgiveness comingle, as they do in us all. Somewhere in the depths of it lies the discovery of both self and others. McLean's village gives us a mirror in which to find the essence of humanity. It is well worth the read.                                                 Peter Heyrman – Professor and Editor

Broken Gourds . . .. Beautifully written. Very well done!                                                           

  Denise's Pieces - Fiction Book Reviews

Broken Gourds . . . a story about healing, about triumph, about humanity, but it's also the story about the flip side to all of that. It's the story of hate, of adultery, corruption, and the selfishness that sprouts from fear. Critique Magazine


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