Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Unconventional Tale from Martinique Allegory of West Indian History

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Unconventional Tale from Martinique Allegory of West Indian History

Article excerpt

TEXACO

A novel by Patrick Chamoiseau

Translated from French and Creole by Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinkokurov MARTINICAN playwright and author Patrick Chamoiseau won the 1992 Prix Goncourt, France's highest literary honor, for his novel "Texaco." With its recent translation, English-speaking readers can now read his complex and fascinating story, set on the Caribbean island of Martinique and told largely by the character of Marie-Sophie Laborieux, an old Martinican woman. A white urban planner has wandered into Texaco, a miserable squatter's quarter that Sophie founded in 1950 on Texaco oil company land located just outside Fort-de-France, the island's largest city. Somebody hits him with a stone and he is taken to Sophie's hovel, or "hutch," to recuperate. She suspects this dazed "Christ" might be the key to the community's survival and serves him rum and her "Sermon." ". . . the story of our Quarter and of our conquest of City, to speak in the name of us all, pleading our cause, telling my life." She begins her tale with her grandfather, a slave on a sugar plantation who waged a secret war against the Bekes, the white Creole plantation owners. He "made poisons . . . to fight slavery on the plantations," she says. Found out, he was sent to prison, where he died. "No children born in chains," he had preached, but his son, Esternome Laborieux ("Breaking ten years of obscure resistance . . . the first slave to be born on that plantation") was born soon after his father was jailed. Esternome "lived like the houseboy of the Big Hutch," Sophie says, telling of his growing, living and working in the planter's house. One day he saved his owner from marauding maroons - escaped slaves - and received his freedom in reward. Esternome and his first wife moved to the countryside to found their own free community, but she tired of life in the hills and ran away with a musician. He later moved in with the chabine (a light-skinned black woman with blond or reddish hair) witch, Adrienne Carmelite Lapidaille, and her blind sister, Idomenee Eugenie. After many attempts to drive "the flying one" away, Adrienne disappeared forever when Idomenee became pregnant with Sophie. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.