Magazine article New Internationalist

The Old Slave and the Mastiff

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Old Slave and the Mastiff

Article excerpt

The Old Slave and the Mastiff by Patrick Chamoiseau translated from the French and Creole by Linda Coverdale (Dialogue Books, ISBN 9780349700465)

It would be safe to say that conventional narrative is not Martinique author Patrick Chamoiseau's primary concern. The plot of his novel The Old Slave and the Mastiff, first published in 1997 and superbly translated by Linda Coverdale, is quickly summarized. On a plantation in the French colony of Martinique an old and trusted slave makes an unexpected escape attempt and is pursued into the rainforest by his master and a ferocious tracker dog. On this bare sketch of a storyline hangs a tale of fiendish complexity and linguistic fecundity. Chamoiseau is well known for his advocacy of the Créolité movement and his novel is a rich stew of references, in French and Creole, to Martinique's long history of colonialism, slavery and oppression. …

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