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The death of a Jamaican man’s father raises questions about the father’s political endeavors, and about the plight of 1980s Jamaica.

Forthcoming: 4/2/19

$15.95 $11.96 Not Currently Available – Check Back Soon!

What people are saying…

“Dawes examines the complicated terrain of grief with uncanny insight and spare, lucid prose. What unfolds is a story about a man, a family, and a country searching for answers and new hope.”
—Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze

Bivouac speaks in tongues so that the reader hears both the market and the courtroom, the orchestra of ancestral voices and the tone of individual conscience. Kwame Dawes’s novel laughs and mourns, claps hands for the inventive communal spirit and wrings those same hands as a result of political malfeasance.”
—Fred D’Aguiar, author of Feeding the Ghosts

“Kwame Dawes brings the beauty and subtle rhythms of his poetic voice to this moving, dreamlike novel where the past intercedes on the present. A deep pleasure to read and savor.”
—Bernardine Evaristo, author of Mr. Loverman

“Dawes’s novel is a poetic patchwork of waiting, of sliding into the past, casting into the future, but mostly of slow, sensorial limbo in the present . . . Dawes exercises significant stylistic restrain . . . so that his flourishes appear like musical interludes, culminating in a final explosion of style and imagination that overwhelms the initial questions the story raises.”
Maple Tree Literary Supplement

Bivouac is Kwame Dawes’s dark novel about death, politics, family, and sex in a Jamaica that has a ‘scarcely understood sense of temporariness and dislocation,’ with dialogue that puts you right onto the streets of Kingston.”
New West Indian Guide


When Ferron Morgan’s father dies in suspicious circumstances, his trauma is exacerbated by the conflict within his family and his father’s friends over whether the death was the result of medical negligence or if it was a political assassination. Ferron has lived in awe of his father’s radical political endeavors but is forced to admit that, with the resurgence of the political right in the Caribbean in the 1980s, his father had lost faith, and was “already dead to everything that had meaning for him.”

Ferron’s response to the death is further complicated by guilt, particularly over his recent failure to protect his fiancée, Dolores, from a brutal rape. He begins, though, to investigate the direction of his life with great intensity, in particular to confront his instinct to keep moving on and running from trouble.

This is a sharply focused portrayal of Jamaica at a tipping point in its recent past, in which the private grief and trauma condenses a whole society’s scarcely understood sense of temporariness and dislocation. For both Ferron and the society there has been the loss of “the corpse of one’s origins,” and the novel points to the need to find a way back before there can be a movement forward.

Congratulations to Kwame Dawes, who has been named Honorary Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature! We are honored to have multiple titles by Kwame on our list, including the forthcoming Bivouac, which will release in April 2019—stay tuned for more!

Book Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Published: 4/2/19
  • IBSN: 9781617757105
  • e-IBSN: 9781617757204


KWAME DAWES is the author of twenty-one books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. In 2016, his book Speak from Here to There, a cowritten collection of verse with Australian poet John Kinsella, was released along with When the Rewards Can Be So Great: Essays on Writing and the Writing Life, which Dawes edited. His most recent collection, City of Bones: A Testament, was published in 2017. His awards include the Forward Poetry Prize, the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, the Musgrave Silver Medal, several Pushcart Prizes, the Barnes & Nobles Writers for Writers Award, and an Emmy Award. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and is Chancellor Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. Dawes serves as the associate poetry editor for Peepal Tree Press and is director of the African Poetry Book Fund. He is series editor of the African Poetry Book Series—the latest of which is New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set: Sita—and artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. In 2018, he was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Bivouac is his latest work published by Akashic.

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