Monday, January 8, 2018

Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau translated by Linda Coverdale


Patrick Chamoiseau's The Old Slave is a gripping, profoundly unsettling story of an elderly slave's daring escape into the wild from a plantation in Martinique, with his master and a fearsome hound on his heels.
We follow them into a lush rainforest where nature is beyond all human control: sinister, yet entrancing and even exhilarating, because the old man's flight to freedom will transform them all in truly astonishing—even otherworldly—ways, as the overwhelming physical presence of the forest reshapes reality and time itself. Chamoiseau's exquisitely rendered new novel is an adventure for all time, one that fearlessly portrays the demonic cruelties of the slave trade and its human costs in vivid, sometimes hallucinatory prose. Offering a loving and mischievous tribute to the Creole culture of Martinique and brilliantly translated by Linda Coverdale, this novel takes us on a unique and moving journey into the heart of Caribbean history.

Review - ⭐⭐⭐
All in all, I liked the story. It gave you the perspective of the runaway slave that most stories involving slavery don't. For example, the cultural "boogymen" that the slave fears after he ran away.

This book left me with a lot of questions. For example: at one point in the story, the "Master" mentions that the slave had been with him since he was born, and the slave taught him things and spent time with him. It seemed to portray a companion type relationship. So why all of a sudden, did the slave decide to run away? (not condoning slavery just it would have been nice info to have to set the tone of the story).

At times, the author is so overly descriptive that it becomes distracting. Other times, there is enough description that you can get the feeling of being there. The story starts out in a third person POV then switches to the first person POV. It was easy to distinguish who was narrating until the end. I still have no idea which character closed out the story. Was it the author? was it the slave owner? was it some other person? I am not sure.

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