Synopses & Reviews
"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."
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.
"Once you know that Texaco is a village in Martinique, this excellent novel reveals from its title on its primary concern and theme: the effects of colonialism on life, language, and selves. Chamoiseau, who wrote the novel in French, brings to mind Garcia Marquez in Latin America and John Edgar Wideman in the U.S., because he has written a self-consciously postmodern novel that asks to be treated as both literature and protest (if you assume that these are necessarily in conflict). Like Wideman, Chamoiseau explores the effects of language and story both on the oppressed characters, who are trying to throw off the shackles that using the enslaver's language forges and make their own stories, and the readers, who, perhaps trained to escape into stories, will find that their sophisticated acts of reading force them to confront profound truths about the real, modern world, truths rooted in history but still living in current selves. But the novel, like many documents of post-colonial, post-enslavement storytellers, oral and written, is a joyful celebration of cultural vitality, pure life that survives the worst oppressions. (Translated from French and Creole by Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov.)" Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
Winner of France's Prix Goncourt, this funny, passionate, and in exhaustively inventive novel is nothing less than a mythic history of the author's native Martinique and its Creole language and culture. "(Chamoiseau's) prose (is) Rabelaisian: erudite, vulgar, stupendously energetic . . . driven by an African beat".--"The New York Times Book Review".
About the Author
Patrick Chamoiseau lives on Martinique. His other books include Chronique des sept misères and Solibo Magnifique. Texaco has been translated into fourteen languages.