Broken Gourds, Beresford McLean, 2004, ISBN 0975329707

In present-day Jamaica, the government wants to build a road that will greatly help the small town of Albion. The problem is that the route will force the demolishing of an old, decrepit building with a sign that says "Balm Yard and House of God". Victor Rawlings, the village representative, sits down the government people, and the local children, and tells them the story of Dada.

Dada was a young man who could not complete the simplest of tasks. Today, he might be called "slow" or "learning disabled," one person called him an idiot savant (each Sunday at church, Dada shows off his amazing singing voice). Prince, his father, is at his wit’s end. One day, in his early twenties, Dada has a very strange dream. When he wakes up, his disability is gone. He is convinced that his purpose on Earth is to spread peace and brotherhood. He decides to take the name Brother Walk.

He also has the power to heal the sick, so Brother Walk’s fame spreads like wildfire. His followers build the Balm Yard, which becomes his church and residence. Attendance at Albion’s First Baptist Church plummets to only a handful, which leads Albion’s leading citizens to consider ways to get rid of Brother Walk, once and for all.

Brother Walk has the ability to see directly into a person’s soul, and tell them exactly what is bothering them. With the women, that usually leads to ending up in bed with him. If a person is having financial problems, and is about to lose their farm, Brother Walk gives them the money to pay the bill. The only stipulation is that they must sign over the deed of their land to Brother Walk. In later years, Brother Walk has a dream which he interprets as a command to circumcize everyone in the village, starting with a young woman named Ruth, who Brother Walk tells that they are getting married. He does not ask Ruth, he tells her that they are getting married.

This is quite a story of humanity, temptation and modern religion combined with old religious practices. It’s about a place alien to most people, and it is very much worth checking out.

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