This powerful weighty tale is told from multiple points of view -- black and white, straight and gay, educated and less so, powerful and (eventually) less so, alive and much much less so. The voices are distinctive, the characters honest in some essential sense, even as they are many of them crooks and murderers. While the "Singer" overshadows everything in this book, it is violence that largely permeates its pages as the animating spirit -- violence of every kind and persuasion, many of the acts crude and apparently senseless, and yet imbued with a certain logic when looked at from at least one character's point of view. The heroine of the tale is a survivor, a shapeshifter, a woman whose voice (and fear and yearning) remain constant even as her name changes. The men of the tale, nearly all of whom die in its pages, are brutal and clever and lyrical and passionate; their deaths do not end their voices; many ghosts speak in these pages long after they are gone. This is an epic tale; the language is relentless profane and often obscene besides. I was thinking in Jamaican curses for a month after I finished.