Synopses & Reviews
In Fort-de-France, Martinique, it's carnival time. And as one fateful day draws to a close, and colorful group of musicians, street vendors, and hopeless disciples gather under a tamarind tree to listen to legendary bard Solibo Magnificent spin tales. Suddenly, in the middle of one raucously entertaining tale Solibo collapses. When he fails to come to, one hysterical listener runs to find a doctor, and inadvertently returns with the overly eager, sinister chief sergeant, who holds Solibo's friends under suspicion for murder.
"This translation of a French/Creole novel does ample justice to Chamoiseau's unique turn of phrase. The plot involves the investigation of the death of a Creole storyteller in mid-performance, and the atrocious way the witnesses are treated by the police. By telling the story through many different points of view, the conflict between the Martinican Creole language and culture and that of the French government is explored in all its complexity. With an ethnographer's eye and a poet's voice, Chamoiseau puts the reader in the middle of a legal and cultural conflict. With precise and expressive translations and an afterword written by the translator, this edition of the novel makes the French Caribbean world accessible to all readers." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
New York Times notable book of the year
In Fort-de-France, Martinique, a colorful group of musicians, street vendors, and hopeless disciples, including the author, gather under a tamarind tree to listen to legendary bard Solibo Magnificent spin tales. Suddenly, in the middle of a raucously entertaining story, Solibo drops dead. So entranced and drunken are his friends, they initially fail to realize that their hero has spoken his last word. One hysterical listener runs to find the doctor and inadvertently returns with the overly eager, sinister chief sergeant, who holds Solibo's friends under suspicion for murder. At turns a madcap murder mystery, a political satire, and a lament on the death of a treasured tradition, Solibo Magnificent is wildly imaginative and exuberantly lyrical.
Praise for Solibo Magnificent
"Both a meaty tale and a cry on behalf of a drowning culture . . . by a poet and a novelist with a raffishly human and lyrical touch."--Los Angeles Times
"A world class author . . . whose voice and imagination are like nothing you've read before."--The Washington Post Book World