BY KEITH ORR
In Jamaica, being gay is a death sentence. “Boom bye bye inna batty bwoy head” (gun shot to gay men) has replaced the country’s motto “Out of many, one people.” The title “Batty Bwoy” is a reappropriation of the derogatory Jamaican epithet used to describe gay, bisexual and effeminate men or those presumed to be gay or bisexual.
Jamaican author Max-Arthur Mantle has written this coming-of-age story about Mark Palmer, a gay, black Jamaican. The son of an overbearing, absentee mother, he is thrust into an environment that requires a thick skin from torments and socio-economic disparities. Suppressing his “gay tendencies” to detract being bashed or killed, he migrates to America and breaks free from the closet to a world where he is disenfranchised and arrested. As his life spirals from bad choices, he clings to desperate measures and finds hope.
Mantle studied Journalism and Photography at Howard University and served in the U.S. Navy. He is a photographer, novelist, avid abstract painter and self-preserving enthusiast with the dream of having a dog. He resides in Miami Beach.
In 2005, Max-Arthur Mantle achieved international recognition when he shot the last cover of Blue+66, Australia’s male photo-art magazine. His photos of gorgeous men have graced the cover and pages of numerous international and American magazines.
Mantle has also contributed work to the Bruno Gmunder Publishing book “Visions: Contemporary Male Photographer,” Studio Magazine’s Australia book “Manatomy” and “Dreamboys, Vol. 3.” In addition, his work has been featured in calendars, greeting cards, posters and in advertising campaigns.
He has published two previous books: “Beach Boys,” published in 2012, and a retrospective photo book “Boys of Summer: The complete work of Max-Arthur Mantle” published in the summer of 2015. Mantle took a four-year break from the lens and returned to writing. His debut novel “Batty Bwoy”, the first in the trilogy, was published in spring 2015. Common Language Bookstore will host Max-Arthur Mantle at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28. The event will include reception, signing and the author reading from “Batty Bwoy.” There will be time for questions and discussion at the end of the reading.