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God Carlos


A provocative and persuasive historical novel exploring the Spanish brutality against native Indians in early 16th-century Jamaica.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

Winner of the 2014 Townsend Prize for Fiction!

God Carlos has been long-listed for the OMC Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature in Trinidad!

“A gusty, boisterous, and entertaining slice of historical fiction. In scenes of a mixture of pride, madness, and comedy, Carlos plays out his role as deity among the naked islanders, living a fantasy that most readers will find believable, if horrific. Along with the horror, the book does offer some beautiful moments of discovery, as when, as Winkler narrates, the ship takes the Mona Passage to Jamaica . . . we hear of an Edenic island, green and aromatic, opened like a wildflower. For all of its scenes of braggadocio and brutality, the book often works on you like that vision.”
—Alan Cheuse, of All Things Considered, NPR

“Readers are transported along to Jamaica, in Winkler’s richly invented 16th century, where his flawless prose paints their slice of time, in turn both brutally graphic and lyrically gorgeous. Verdict: Comic, tragic, bawdy, sad, and provocative, this is a thoroughly engaging adventure story from renowned Jamaican author Winkler, sure to enchant readers who treasure a fabulous tale exquisitely rendered.”
Library Journal

“Darkly irreverent . . . With a sharp tongue, Winkler, a native of Jamaica, deftly imbues this blackly funny satire with an exposé of colonialism’s avarice and futility.”
Publishers Weekly

“A tale of the frequently tragic—and also comic—clash of races and religions brought on by colonization . . . Anthony Winkler spins an enlightening parable, rich in historical detail and irony.”
Shelf Awareness

“With perceptive storytelling and bracing honesty, Mr. Winkler, author of a half-dozen well-reviewed books, has a lovely way of telling a good story and educating concurrently . . . God Carlos teaches history in a subtle but meaningful way. Too literary to be lumped in with typical historical fiction, and too historical to be lumped in with typical literary fiction, God Carlos defies categorization.”
New York Journal of Books

God Carlos provides a welcome opportunity to glimpse . . . the lives of ordinary people, both European and Caribbean, as they experience the calamitous effects of the encounter of two worlds.”
Sargasso: A Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language, & Culture

“The author’s piercing narrative drives home . . . Here, Winkler’s brilliance as a storyteller is unmistakable . . . God Carlos is a literary tour de force—atmospheric and incisive. It effuses raw emotion—perplexing, bewildering, and dark . . . On multiple levels, Winkler proves his salt as a genuine raconteur . . . the architect of an invaluable literary work.”
The Jamaica Gleaner

“Well-written . . . Winkler’s descriptions of sea and sky as seen from a sailing ship, and of the physical beauty of Jamaica, are spot-on and breathtaking.”
Historical Novel Review

“In God Carlos and The Family Mansion, Anthony Winkler, the master storyteller, has provided us with texts of both narrative quality and historical substance that should find place in the annals of Caribbean literature.”
SX Salon

“Set in the sixteenth century, Winkler’s latest novel is something like Heart of Darkness meets Animal Farm. But what happens when Jamaica’s most flamboyantly irreverent and fiercely contemporary novelist tackles the past? Why, the past becomes flamboyantly irreverent and fiercely contemporary. Winkler’s achievement here is not that he remakes himself as a historical writer, but that he remakes history.”
—Kei Miller, author of The Last Warner Woman

“Winkler is renowned in the West Indies for his comic genius. In God Carlos, he undertakes the formidable task of imagining the region’s damaged history—unwritten and seemingly unreachable—with such ease and insight that we find ourselves transported to sixteenth-century Jamaica, as we watch the story unfold before our eyes.”
—Robert Antoni, author of Carnival

“A vivid and powerful account of the tragedy unleashed upon the native peoples of the Caribbean in the years following the arrival of Christopher Columbus.”
Jaime Manrique, author of Cervantes Street

“Winkler never glosses over Jamaican deprivation, prejudice, and violence, yet the love of language—and the language of love—somehow conquers all. It’s almost as if P.G. Wodehouse had strolled into the world of Bob Marley . . . Winkler’s fiction magics the island into a place of rough-edged enchantment.”
The Independent (UK)

“Every country (if she’s lucky) gets the Mark Twain she deserves, and Winkler is ours, bristling with savage Jamaican wit, heart-stopping compassion, and jaw-dropping humor all at once.”
Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women

“Winkler has a fine ear for patois and dialogue, and a love of language that makes bawdy jokes crackle.”
The New Yorker


An excerpt of the digital edition of God Carlos is available for free download as part of our Historical Digit and our Jamaican Digit.

God Carlos transports us to a voyage aboard the Santa Inez, a Spanish sailing vessel bound for the newly discovered West Indies with a fortune-seeking band of ragtag sailors. She is an unusual explorer for her day, carrying no provisions for the settlers, no seed for planting crops, manned by vain, arrogant men looking for gold in Jamaica.

Expecting to make a landfall in paradise after over a month at sea, the crew of the Santa Inez instead find themselves in the middle of a timid, innocent people—the Arawaks—who walk around stark naked without embarrassment and who venerate their own customs and worship their own gods and creeds. The European newcomers do not find gold, only the merciless climate that nourishes diseases that slaughter them. The Arawaks’ belief that the European arrivals were from heaven further complicates this impossible entanglement of culture, custom, and beliefs, ultimately leading to mutual doom.

Click here to download a reading group guide for God Carlos.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Published: 9/4/12
  • IBSN: 9781617751394
  • e-IBSN: 9781617751417


ANTHONY C. WINKLER was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1942 and is widely recognized as one of the island’s finest exports. After being expelled from Cornwall College for refusing to submit to corporal punishment (which entailed being beaten with a cane), he eventually made his way to California where he attended Citrus College and California State University, earning a BA and MA in English. His first published novel, The Painted Canoe (1984), received critical acclaim and was followed by The Lunatic (1987), The Great Yacht Race (1992), The Duppy (1997), Crocodile (2009), Dog War (2007), God Carlos (2012), and The Family Mansion, among others. Trust the Darkness: My Life as a Writer, his autobiography, was published in 2008. His writing credits also include film scripts and plays. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Cathy.

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