Flickering Shadows

A novel by Kwadwo Agymah Kamau

September 1, 1996 • 6 x 9 • 304 pages • 978-1-56689-049-6

Political corruption, lust, and betrayal poison a Caribbean island paradise.

Deeply engrossing and beautifully written, this debut novel marks the stunning arrival of a major new talent. Set on a fictional Caribbean island, Flickering Shadows is the story of the colorful and compelling inhabitants of a small ex-colony, a village called the Hill. Cephus’s grandfather—arguably one of the most intriguing narrators to appear in fiction in some time—draws the reader into the lives and vivid dramas of the whole community. Cephus, Doreen, Boysie, Inez, young Kwame, the ghost, Dolphus, and an array of vibrantly depicted characters form a rich and hypnotic tale of love and betrayal, selflessness and honor, lust and dignity. Played out against a backdrop of political chicanery and religious corruption, this entrancing novel captivates from its first sentence to its breathtaking and unforgettable conclusion.


“People have been asking for some time now: where are the Bajan griot voices to succeed George Lamming, Paule Marshall, Austin Clark? Well, look in vain no further. Here, fresh & young in the spirit-fields of that nearest-to-Africa Caribbean island, is my namesake Kwadwi Agymah Kamau’s first novel, Flickering Shadows, continuing the great coral/choral-calling tradition of Barbados.” —Kamau Brathwaite, Savacou Publications

“Dazzling in its playful, poetic language; haunting in its authentic evocation of aplace; and totally original in narrative voice, Flickering Shadows is a gem, a work of pure enchantment. To read it is to fall under an island spell. Tragic yet uplifting, this is fiction at its best.” —Lee Smith, author of Saving Grace and The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed

“Kamau is a loving native son/literary ju ju man whose language is sheer poetry nothing less! His people are unforgettable, their pride and strength a monument, brought forth, made sacred on the pages of this jewel of a book.” —Marita Golden, author of And Do Remember Me and Saving Our Sons

“In this, his first novel, Agymah Kamau has taken life in a hard-scrabble little West Indian village and, through the power of his vision and his lean poetic prose, made it speak for the oppressed the world over. An impressive debut.” —Paul Marshall, author of Daughters and The Chosen Place, The Timeless People

“Here is a compelling new voice from the Caribbean. . . . Reading Kwadwo Agymah Kamau’s extraordinary first novel calls to mind Vic Reid’s masterful capturing of the cadences and idioms of Caribbean speech; Erna Brodber’s mesmerizing poetic lyricism; Wilson Harris’s provocative magical realism; Sam Selvon’s seductive humor; and George Lamming’s political imperatives.” —Daryl Cumber Dance, editor, Folklore from Contemporary Jamaicans & Fifty Caribbean Writers