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The Children of Sisyphus. (First American edition)
The Children of Sisyphus. (First American edition)

The Children of Sisyphus. (First American edition)

A superb copy of the First American Edition of the author’s first novel, one of the first to deal with the emerging Rastafarian movement and the Jamaican ghetto (the Dungle). Patterson’s existentialist story was advertised in the Times Literary Supplement as a “picture of a dark aspect of West Indian society, a sub-world of crime, violence, and religious extremism, not previously recorded by a novelist.” (March 12, 1964)

The book has twenty-three short chapters. Through the perspective of such characters as Dinah, a prostitute, and Brother Solomon, a Rastafarian leader, the novel explores the gritty, dehumanizing world in which they struggle to survive. The dust jacket for this American edition describes the book as a “novel from a newer world about an ultimate primitivism” and describing the Rastafarians as a bizarre cult, a “racist group, betrayed by their leaders into the fantastic notion that their return to Ethiopia —the ‘Israel’ of their dreams— is imminent.”

A native of Jamaica, H. Orlando Patterson (b.1940) holds the John Cowles Chair in sociology at Harvard and is noted for his work on issues of race and slavery in the United States and Jamaica. Remarkably, Dr. Patterson wrote the Children of Sisyphus while simultaneously pursuing his Ph. D. at the London School of Economics and writing his dissertation on The Sociology of Slavery. Patterson received the First Prize for Fiction at the Dakar Festival of Negro Arts in 1966 for The Children of Sisyphus. He also won the National Award for Non-Fiction in 1991.

Description: The Children of Sisyphus. (First American edition)

Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1965. 206 pages. Fine in a near fine dust jacket.


Blockson Catalogue 6934. Ref. Calvin, “Alienation and Violence in the Novel. The Children of Sisyphus by Orlando Patterson” within Diasporic Lives: Alienation and Violence as Themes in African American and Jamaican Cultural Texts (2010).

Price: $300.00

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