Russell Banks here explores the complexities of political life in the Caribbean and its everpresent racial conflicts. His narrator, a college professor from New Hampshire, goes to Jamaica to write a novel and soon becomes embroiled in the struggles between whites and blacks. He is especially interested in an ancient tribe called the Maroons. Despite their history of oppression, the Maroons have managed to maintain a relatively autonomous existence. Partly out of guilt and an intellectual sense of social responsibility, Banks' narrator gets involved in reuniting two feuding clans. Unfortunately, his attempt ends in disaster, and he must deal with his feelings of alienation, isolation, and failure.