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More books on drugs culture
One good book always leads to another so for those who enjoyed our June Sunday Arts Section (SAS) Book Club selection, The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and are interested in exploring other books about the illegal drug trade and how it changes a country or a culture, you’ll want to check out the books below.
Here are four of my favourite books on the subject:
1. Mr Big by Ty N Batson—When we think of the drug trade and the emerging drug culture in a country, we naturally also think about the political assassinations that go with it. Ty Batson’s novel about Mr Big tells the fictional story of a Trinidadian hit man. Batson’s novel will make you think about the drug trade in Trinidad. Although this is a work of fiction, you can’t help but make comparisons to real-life situations. Mr Big is an intriguing character, well-defined in a colourful way.
2. Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord by Louis De Bernieres—Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord, set in a fictional South American country, will undoubtedly remind you of T&T 20- 30 years ago, when the country was not so heavily entrenched in the drug trade. In this novel, Dionisio, a professor of philosophy, writes a series of letters to a newspaper about the coca trade. Initially, Dionisio’s letters seem comical, but as time passes, there is a sobering reality that emerges: This country has developing into a dark-crime-ridden place that will never be the same again. Readers will see many similarities between Colombia and T&T in this novel. De Bernieres’ novel has been described as a “grand tragicomedy”. I read this book over ten years ago, and I am reminded of it constantly when I look around me.
3. News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García Márquez—This riveting story of a series of kidnappings in Colombia during the 1980s is the subject of García Márquez’s nonfiction book, which signalled a return to his journalistic roots. The kidnappings are engineered by Pablo Escobar after the government of Colombia signed a treaty with the US to extradite Colombian citizens involved in the drug trade. Escobar decided to put pressure on the Colombian government through a series of kidnappings that initially seemed to be unrelated.
García Márquez began writing about Maruja Pachon, who spent six months in captivity. When he began writing her story, he realised the connection among the ten kidnap victims. This is one nonfiction book that reads like fiction. García Márquez’s descriptions of characters and events are remarkable. His description of Pablo Escobar’s special prison will remind you of some of the stories you are reading about T&T.
4. Alonso and the Drug Baron by Evan Jones—It’s a set up. Detective Sergeant Swaby of the Jamaica Constabulary makes Alonso a fall guy for the murder of Chin Lee. The assassin is Bulldog, who threw Chin Lee's body over the balcony. The drug baron Leprosini is clueless, but he too wants Alonso dead. The story, set in Jamaica, is simply hilarious. You’re guaranteed to laugh aloud as Alonso tries to save himself with absolutely no help from the authorities—or anyone, for that matter. Again, you’ll be surprised how many of the characters and situations resemble Trinidad. Jones proves that humour can make readers ponder some very serious situations.
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