Originally published in 1954 and acclaimed around the world as one of the classics of Caribbean fiction, "Brother Man" is the tragic story of an honest Rastafarian healer caught up in a web of intrigue and betrayal in Jamaica's tough West Kingston slums. The healer's name is John Power, but everybody calls him Brother Man - a cobbler whose ability to cure the sick and injured through a mystic force uplifts him to the status of a prophet. Throngs begin to trail him when he passes in the street. With each miracle performed his reputation spreads. Looking on with envy is the evil Papacita, a violent enforcer whose authority is threatened by Brother Man's message of peace and love. Papacita's jealousy is stirred in more ways than one. The brutal schemer also covets the attention of Minette, a young attractive girl that Brother Man has rescued from the streets. Set in the same rambunctious lanes that reggae icons like Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff would later stroll and sing about, "Brother Man", is the unforgettable portrait of a ghetto saint - an ordinary man selected by the universe to bring enlightenment to poor belittled people. It's a story of compelling mythic power that has stood the test of time.
Roger Mais (August 11, 1905 Kingston-June 21, 1955 Kingston) was a Jamaican journalist, novelist, poet, and playwright.
Mais was perhaps the most important writer to emerge from the nationalist movement which began with the labour rebellion of 1938. His play of that year, George William Gordon, which focused on the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865, played an important role in the rehabilitation of the eponymous character, who was in conventional colonial history described as a rebel and traitor, and who would be proclaimed, on the centenary of the rebellion, a National Hero.
Mais became a writer for the weekly newspaper, Public Opinion, which was associated with the People's National Party. A column he wrote for the newspaper, entitled "Now We Know", critical of British colonial policy resulted in his imprisonment for sedition.
This period of imprisonment was instrumental in the development of his first novel, The Hills Were Joyful Together, a work focused on working-class life in the Kingston of the 1940s. Mais's second novel, Brother Man, was a sympathetic exploration of the emergent Rastafari movement.
While Mais's first two novels had urban settings, his third novel, Black Lightning centred on an artist living in the countryside.
Mais was also known as a poet, and showed a fine command of lyricism, and a short-story writer. His short stories were collected in a volume entitled Listen, The Wind, thirty-two years after his death.
Mais's novels have been republished posthumously several times, an indication of his continuing importance to Caribbean literary history. He also had an influence on younger writers of the pre-independence period, notably John Hearne.