Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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
"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
"'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.