This is the story of Robert Nesta Marley, Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey, their loves, Jamaica past and present, and of the Rastas, among others ... The characters provide recitations, dance, and perform their stories in the novel, symbolic of the lives that they led while alive. They defend their actions or lament them as acts of redemption, and what better way to redeem than to perform acts to repair society ... The center of the story revolves a reincarnated Bob Marley and his love for Leenah, the deaf daughter of parents who are persecuted for being Rastafarian ... This work may easily be classified as a neoresistance narrative. It harkens back to the past of slavery, oppression, and violence to account for the situation in Jamaica today. The ancestors’ rebellious acts and products must come to bear in order to defeat the enemy of violence, poverty, and hatred. By turns the novel reveals that the solution must begin with the children, and music can be a cure for the malaise.
Told through chapters that are presented as musical tracks...a work of poetry steeped in history and rich with imagination. The lyrical language keeps the pages turning, track after track...The story centers on a reincarnated Bob Marley and ranges from the rougher parts of Kingston and Zion in Jamaica to Emperor Haile Selassie's palace in Addis Ababa. We hear first from Marley's one-time lover Leenah, a deaf but wildly perceptive woman who gives her account of the first time she and Bob met. She describes him as a man with 'mischief in his eyes,' 'misbehaving hair,' and whose cheekbones could 'balance an egg or a flame or a revolution.' ... Marvellous Equations is an intoxicating mix of...realism that not only surveys Rastafarian tradition, but also sheds light on the injustices against Rastafarians in Jamaica ... Her chapters are tracks that all work well as singles, but when played together pulsate with...power.
You can’t tell the living and the dead here without a score card, and a score card would be too linear a device for this magical realist tale spun by Douglas. It’s hard to know which of the myriad narrative strands one should examine first, but we’ll start with the deaf woman named Leenah, who met and fell in love with Marley in 1977 when both were exiles from their Jamaican homeland living in London. Years later, the soul of the reggae superstar and icon of Rastafarianism is implanted into the body of a homeless man huddling in a clock tower in Kingston ... Douglas’...blend of surreal imagery, historic facts, and vividly rendered monologues from all her characters, whether Jamaican-born or not, seems at times to get away from her. Somehow, the spiraling, unwieldy mix is held together by its recurrent invocation of musical motifs borrowed from classic Caribbean pop and, most of all, by the poetic fire of the author’s imagery.