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Crossing the Mangrove

by

Crossing the Mangrove Cover

ISBN13: 9780385476331
ISBN10: 0385476337
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this beautifully crafted, Rashomon-like novel, Maryse Condé has written a gripping story imbued with all the nuances and traditions of Caribbean culture. Francis Sancher — a handsome outsider, loved by some and reviled by others — is found dead, face down in the mud on a path outside Riviere au Sel, a small village in Guadeloupe.  None of the villagers are particularly surprised, since Sancher, a secretive and melancholy man, had often predicted an unnatural death for himself. As the villagers come to pay their respects they each — either in a speech to the mourners, or in an internal monologue — reveal another piece of the mystery behind Sancher's life and death. Like pieces of an elaborate puzzle, their memories interlock to create a rich and intriguing portrait of a man and a community. In the lush and vivid prose for which she has become famous, Conde has constructed a Guadeloupean wake for Francis Sancher. Retaining the full color and vibrance of Conde's homeland, Crossing the Mangrove pays homage to Guadeloupe in both subject and structure.

Review:

"Conde writes elegantly in a style that beautifully survives translation from the French...[she] gives readers a flavor of the French and Creole stew that is the Guadeloupan tongue. In so doing, Conde conveys the many subtle distinctions of color, class, and language that made up this society." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"A lively translation, liberally spiced with Creole expressions, plunges the reader into this exotic world where secrets well up like springs in the rain forest, and one person's death brings new life to many others. Recommended for special collections as well as general readers." Library Journal

Review:

"'Perhaps we should weed out from our heads the Guinea grass and quitch grass of our old grudges. Perhaps we should teach our hearts a new beat,' muses the clairvoyant Mama Sonson as she joins in the curious wake for Francis Sancher, a stranger who died while visiting the French island of Guadeloupe. All the people attending ponder his identity and also his effect on their lives....[T]his rich web of lives has a lush, trembling beauty that seems nearly ready, by the end of the wake, to heed Mama Sonson's desperately needed advice." Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Maryse Condé is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including Crossing the Mangrove, Segu, Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, and I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem. She lives in New York and Montebello, Guadeloupe.

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Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

kkimbox, June 13, 2014 (view all comments by kkimbox)
Crossing the Mangrove is centered around Francis Sancher a unique individual that comes to Riviere au Sel in Guadalupe. In the village of Riviere au Sel there are many different races, ethnicities and beliefs. The book first starts off at dusk with an elementary school teacher on the island finding Francis Sanchas body. After this up to his funeral we examine the characters in Riviere au Sel and their relationship with Francis Sancher. However Maryse Conde uses a unique way to let us get the know the characters in the book. She examines each character in a chapter and goes into their lives and how they feel and what not. It tells us about each character and their relationship with Francis Sancher through their eyes leading up to the funeral. During these chapters and examination it is realized that many people hated Francis Sancher and that each character had their own reason for disliking him. With each story after another of the characters the story of Francis Sancher and who he was starts to materialize and become clearer. For many he was hated for with impregnating their daughters or the mystery man on the island as some have never met him or only seen him once.
As we read through the stories we realize that Riviere au Sel was a nice and balanced community but when Francis Sancher gets there with all his drama and manipulation he turns the community upside down. At his wake all the characters are there most with hatred for Francis, however the purpose of the wake is not for people to hate or like him. Its to pay their respects and ultimately say how Francis Sancher changed each individual person's life throughout their story and life in the novel. From these stories we see the life of Francis Sancher through the villagers and the reader has to investigate how he died. Each story includes a little piece of Sanchas life and who he was but the monologues also examine the community. Throughout each stories we see the different races in the village and how they are treated, this opens up racism in the book. We also see the different culture in the village and what people really want. This lets the reader know who’s information about Francis Sancher could be valuable based on their relationship with him and their own ethnic views, and whose information is biased or could not be valuable because they purely just hated Francis Sancher for a insignificant reason. The stories also show the cultural values in Guadeloupe. All these factors that are presented in the stories throughout the novel show us what people value, their morals and their relationship with Francis Sancher and how he affected their lives.
The way the book is structured as well gives the readers the ability to start with a clear slate and to draw their own conclusion on Francis Sancher and his beliefs and the role he plays in the novel, rather than the author revealing it. The reader can examine each characters stories about Francis Sancher and their beliefs and at the end put them all together to find who Francis Sancher is and why he is important to these characters. By the end of the novel at Francis Sancher funeral people close to him who appreciated him would seek to change and not fear the unknown. That overall in the end Sancher did something to each character to make them change their beliefs, culture or seek out new ones.
Crossing the Mangrove is a great read and worth your time as it offers an interesting story and lets the reader draw their own conclusion in the end. The true beauty of Crossing the Mangrove is that although Francis is the main character of the book he does not tell his own story in the novel and in the end very little is truly known about him. Although the story seems to be about him it is actually about the people of Riviere au Sel and how they interact with each other.Francis Sancher plays the role of what brings all these people together in the novel to make this story. He represents the community coming together as a whole. Francis’ character is like a mirror that reflects the belief, culture and true spirit of the people in Riviere au Sel.
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andrewabennett, June 13, 2014 (view all comments by andrewabennett)
Taking place in the seemingly pristine island of Guadeloupe, Maryse Condé’s Crossing the mangrove presents itself as a self portrait on tapestry rather than canvass of the island. Its intricately woven fibers intersect at the wake of the protagonist, Francis Sancher. Although categorized as a mystery novel because of Sancher’s death, the book focuses on the intricacies of the relationship many of the characters have with Sancher, and by extension whatever may define their lives. The book’s chapters consist of a series of speeches, or thoughts, by each character during the wake. This allows each character to interact with, and recall, their stories of Francis Sancher. Some characters love him, because of the doors he opened for them, while others distain him and view his death as justice being served. Either way Sancher has achieved an almost spiritually influential level with most of the residents of Rivère au Sel. Sancher acts as a medium for interpersonal exploration, allowing people to resolve their problems for themselves. His sometimes subtle instigations serve to prod everyone foreword in their lives, while not irreprehensibly changing the town.
Beyond each character, the novel addressed many issues with modern lifestyles, mainly the corruption that urban environments present. A number of characters prefer the wholesome environment the jungle of the Island provides to the town they live in. They prefer a connection to their surroundings that they cannot find in their town, and even today this message is incredibly relevant considering the ever widening gap between reality and our online presences.
Reading the book itself is pleasant. It is not overly dense, but by no means is it fluffy. Everything serves a purpose, but nothing makes it unpleasant to read. One could easily curl up with this book and read it in a day if they wanted.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
hakrob, June 13, 2014 (view all comments by hakrob)
The novel, Crossing the mangrove by Maryse Conde, is a great read and I would recommend it to all readers who thoroughly enjoy a good drama book. Opening with a mysterious death and the reactions of multiple citizens in an isolated community, the novel instantly steals your attention as you try to work out who committed the crime. Even though the identity of the killer is never revealed, the reader gets to see how a newcomer in the isolated community of Riviere au Sol known as Francis Sancher touched the lives of multiple people within his new home. Each character describes their initial reaction, relationship, and interactions with Sancher through their own personal narrative/chapter. The effect of this writing style may at first seem confusing, but can be easily overlooked once you immerse yourself in the gripping plot twists of the novel and deep emotions of the characters. These emotions toward Sancher vary from best friend to most hated enemy, offering a much wider range of description for the protagonist than other novels with a sole narrator such as Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby. This wider range is greatly appreciated as it gives the reader more insight on the type of person that Sancher embodies. By the end of the novel the reader should feel slightly confused as they are bombarded with opposing opinions and cause the reader to wonder whether Sancher is good or bad. Conde doesn’t give a perfectly laid out conclusion or meaning that a reader should take away from the novel. She just offers up information about characters in the story and lets the reader decide for themselves.
Even though no greater message is apparent, plenty of themes are present in the novel. Conde sifts through themes like human nature, heroism, and the connection between humanity and nature. The novel suggests that a hero does not have to be liked in order to be present or have an impact. Even though Sancher made enemies, his impact on the community as a whole were for the most part towards the greater good of all the people who lived there. He ends up breaking down the towns fear of outsiders which is only realized through his death when the citizens reflect upon their interactions with him.
This novel is perfect for all readers. While the novel starts off with confusion and mystery, it transforms into drama and suspense as the reader may find themselves gasping during a passage or crunching their teeth in fear of Sancher’s next move. I would suggest finding some way to remember all of characters different relationships with Sancher, especially if there is any contrast when characters have repeat chapters. Making note of each of these opinions will help understand Sancher more. Now go get lost in Conde’s mangrove. You may find that you’ll never return.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385476331
Author:
Conde, Maryse
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Translator:
Philcox, Richard
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
Detective and mystery stories
Subject:
Guadeloupe
Subject:
Guadeloupe Social life and customs Fiction.
Subject:
Guadeloupe Social life and customs.
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
186026
Publication Date:
19950231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.2 x 5.45 x .6 in .45 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

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Product details 224 pages Anchor Books - English 9780385476331 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Conde writes elegantly in a style that beautifully survives translation from the French...[she] gives readers a flavor of the French and Creole stew that is the Guadeloupan tongue. In so doing, Conde conveys the many subtle distinctions of color, class, and language that made up this society."
"Review" by , "A lively translation, liberally spiced with Creole expressions, plunges the reader into this exotic world where secrets well up like springs in the rain forest, and one person's death brings new life to many others. Recommended for special collections as well as general readers."
"Review" by , "'Perhaps we should weed out from our heads the Guinea grass and quitch grass of our old grudges. Perhaps we should teach our hearts a new beat,' muses the clairvoyant Mama Sonson as she joins in the curious wake for Francis Sancher, a stranger who died while visiting the French island of Guadeloupe. All the people attending ponder his identity and also his effect on their lives....[T]his rich web of lives has a lush, trembling beauty that seems nearly ready, by the end of the wake, to heed Mama Sonson's desperately needed advice."
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