Solibo Magnificent

Patrick Chamoiseau, Author, Val Vinokurov, Translator, Rose-Myriam Rejouis, Translator Pantheon Books $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-679-43236-4
When Solibo, one of Fort-de-France's last Creole-speaking storytellers, falls inexplicably dead during a Carnival performance, the ensuing circus-like investigation brilliantly conjures up Martinique history and Creole culture on a much smaller scale than Chamoiseau's acclaimed epic, Texaco. Led by the cerebral inspector Pilon and the hard-boiled sergeant Bouaffesse, the Francophone police are determined to crack the case, even if it means breaking a few heads along the way. Having rounded up the audience, including Chamoiseau the ""word-scratcher"" himself, the scrappy fruit-vendor Doudou-Menar, the pure-blooded African ""Congo"" and assorted, equally vivid characters, the police find their inquiry turning comic, violent, tragic and magical as they haplessly investigate how the vagabond shaman Solibo could have had his throat ""snickt by the Word."" Written four years before Texaco and published in France at the same time as Creole Folktales, Chamoiseau's bewitching tale has been ably translated by Rejouis and Vinokurov--as far as his poetic mix of Parnassian French and spoken Creole can be translated. At once funny and elegiac, this novel delivers Chamoiseau's return gift to his island's storytellers and confirms his place among them. (Mar.) FYI: Chamoiseau's Texaco, published here last year, won the 1992 Prix Goncourt.
Reviewed on: 02/02/1998
Release date: 02/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-679-75176-2
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