'I was obsessed - let me confess - by cities and settlements in the Central and South Americas that are an enigma to many scholars. I dreamt of their abandonment, their bird-masks, their animal-masks ... Did their inhabitants rebel against the priests, did obscure holocausts occur, civil strife, famine, plague? Was Jonestown the latest manifestation of the breakdown of populations within the hidden flexibilities and inflexibilities of pre-Columbian civilizations? The Maya were certainly one of the great civilizations of ancient America and the fate of their cities - such as Palenque, Chichen Itza, Tikal, Bonampak - has left unanswered questions.'. Bone is narrator and fictional survivor of the mass-suicide at Jonestown in the remote Guyana forest in 1978. In a Dream-book he tries to heal the trauma he suffered and, interweaving past and future, journeys into his childhood and education and explores his association with the charismatic leader, Jonah Jones, in Guyana and America. In setting out his account he is drawn into the Mayan concept of time which twins past and future, giving his narrative the compulsive eloquence of dream. The result is a striking demonstration, after more than thirty years, of the continuing power of Wilson Harris's imagination.
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Wilson Harris was born in 1921 in the former colony of British Guiana. He was a land surveyor before leaving for England in 1959 to become a full-time writer. His exploration of the dense forests, rivers and vast savannahs of the Guyanese hinterland features prominently in the settings of his fiction. Harris's novels are complex, alluding to diverse mythologies from different cultures, and eschew conventional narration in favour of shifting interwoven voices. His first novel Palace of the Peacock (1960) became the first of The Guyana Quartet, which includes The Far Journey of Oudin (1961), The Whole Armour (1962) and The Secret Ladder (1963). He later wrote The Carnival Trilogy ( Carnival (1985), The Infinite Rehearsal (1987) and The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990)). His most recent novels are Jonestown (1996), which tells of the mass-suicide of a thousand followers of cult leader Jim Jones; The Dark Jester (2001), his latest semi-autobiographical novel, The Mask of the Beggar (2003), and one of his most accessible novels in decades, The Ghost of Memory (2006). Wilson Harris also writes non-fiction and critical essays and has been awarded honorary doctorates by several universities, including the University of the West Indies (1984) and the University of Liège (2001). He has twice been winner of the Guyana Prize for Literature.
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