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The Bridge of Beyondby Simone Schwarz Bart
Synopses & Reviews
In this intoxicating tale of love and madness, mothers and daughters, folkloric wisdom and the grim legacy of slavery on the French Antillean island of Guadeloupe, aged yet unbowed Telumee tells her life story, along with that of the proud line of Lougandor women she continues to draw strength from, even in their physical absence. Having obtained, with dizzying speed, love and happiness and the trust of others, Telumee must find the resources, personal and collective, both to rejoice without reserve and then, in less fortunate seasons, to survive suffering that would crush weaker vessels. In the words of “Queen Without a Name,” the stoic and tender grandmother who raises her, “Behind one pain there is another. Sorrow is a wave without end. But the horse mustn’t ride you, you must ride it.”
A masterpiece of Caribbean literature, The Bridge of Beyond represents at once a gorgeously thick description of the flora and climate, crafts and customs of the island, and the triumph of a spirit so generous and hopeful that no earthly adversity could outlast it. Simone Schwarz-Bart’s sinuous and lyrical prose, interwoven with proverbs and other local sayings, appears here in an uncommonly good translation by Barbara Bray.
This is an intoxicating tale of love and wonder, mothers and daughters, spiritual values and the grim legacy of slavery on the French Antillean island of Guadeloupe. Here long-suffering Telumee tells her life story and tells us about the proud line of Lougandor women she continues to draw strength from. Time flows unevenly during the long hot blue days as the madness of the island swirls around the villages, and Telumee, raised in the shelter of wide skirts, must learn how to navigate the adversities of a peasant community, the ecstasies of love, and domestic realities while arriving at her own precious happiness. In the words of Toussine, the wise, tender grandmother who raises her, “Behind one pain there is another. Sorrow is a wave without end. But the horse mustn’t ride you, you must ride it.”
A masterpiece of Caribbean literature, The Bridge of Beyond relates the triumph of a generous and hopeful spirit, while offering a gorgeously lush, imaginative depiction of the flora, landscape, and customs of Guadeloupe. Simone Schwarz-Bart’s incantatory prose, interwoven with Creole proverbs and lore, appears here in a remarkable translation by Barbara Bray.
About the Author
Simone Schwarz-Bart was born in 1938 in southwestern France and moved, with her mother, to Guadeloupe at the age of three. She later studied in France and married the Jewish French writer André Schwarz-Bart. In 1967 they published their joint novel, Un plat de porc aux bananes verts (A Dish of Pork with Green Bananas). Schwarz-Bart has traveled widely, living in Senegal and Switzerland, and now lives in Goyave, a small community in Guadeloupe. The Bridge of Beyond was awarded the literary prize of the French magazine Elle.
Jamaica Kincaid is a Caribbean novelist, gardener, and gardening writer. Her short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review and The New Yorker, where her novel Lucy was originally serialized. Her first book, At the Bottom of the River, was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and she has gone on to write more than fifteen books, including A Small Place, Annie John, and Mr. Potter. She has received the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, the Prix Femina Étranger, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Writers' Award. Kincaid lives in North Bennington, Vermont, during the summers and teaches at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. Her latest novel, See Now Then, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in February 2013.
Barbara Bray was an influential translator of twentieth-century French literature into English. She was an early champion of Marguerite Duras, and also translated the work of Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Anouilh, and Alain Robbe-Grillet. She worked as a script editor for the BBC in the 1950s, and there commissioned radio plays by young writers such as Harold Pinter. For over thirty years she had a close relationship with Samuel Beckett, and was one of the few people with whom he shared his thoughts and works in progress.
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