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Patrick Chamoiseau's "Texaco"

"Of black Martinican provenance, Patrick Chamoiseau gives us Texaco (winner of the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize), an international literary achievement, tracing one hundred and fifty years of post-slavery Caribbean history: a novel that is as much about self-affirmation engendered by memory as it is about a quest for the adequacy of its own form.

In a narrative composed of short sequences, each recounting episodes or developments of moment, and interspersed with extracts from fictive notebooks and from statements by an urban planner, Marie-Sophie Laborieux, the saucy, aging daughter of a slave affranchised by his master, tells the story of the tormented foundation of her people's identity. The shantytown established by Marie-Sophie is menaced from without by hostile landowners and from within by the volatility of its own provisional state. Hers is a brilliant polyphonic rendering of individual stories informed by rhythmic orality and subversive humor that shape a collective experience.

A joyous affirmation of literature that brings to mind Boccaccio, La Fontaine, Lewis Carroll, Montaigne, Rabelais, and Joyce, Texaco is a work of rare power and ambition, a masterpiece."

"Chamoiseau is a writer who has the sophistication of the modern novelist, and it is from that position (as an heir of Joyce and Kafka) that he holds out his hand to the oral prehistory of literature."
--Milan Kundera

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  • John

    The main character of this novel, Marie-Sophie, is one of the most indestructible characters I have ever encountered. (I was reminded of Tosca.) I liked this novel's capacious, bricolage form, and the colorful, folksy language of its characters. Ultimately, Texaco is not the portrait of a single individual, but rather a telling of the histories of all the inhabitants of this part of Martinique.

    August 9, 2013

  • Kathryn

    Didn't get access to the book in time to read it. Waah.

    July 31, 2013

  • Edynn

    Was hoping to be able to make it, but I can't. Sorry to miss out on the discussion. See you next month.

    July 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am going to have to miss this one. I will be traveling out of town on a business trip. Sorry.

    July 29, 2013

  • Catherine D.

    I'm sorry. A conflict has arisen and I won't be available for this one. See you next time!

    July 29, 2013

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