Autofiction and Advocacy in the Francophone Caribbean

Renée Larrier

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"Very refreshing in the understanding of Caribbean literature . . . Succeeds in blending close readings of specific texts with a constant awareness of the larger picture. . . . From a theoretical complexity that calls on Glissant, Fanon, Ngugi, Benito-Rojo among others, this profoundly human exploration of autofiction and advocacy in Francophone Caribbean literature study does not succumb to the temptation of theory; that is, she does not demand texts illustrate a rigid theoretical frame; the reverse is true throughout the study."--Cilas Kemedjio, University of Rochester

Larrier breaks new ground in analyzing first-person narratives by five Francophone Caribbean writers--Joseph Zobel, Patrick Chamoiseau, Gisele Pineau, Edwidge Danticat, and Maryse Conde--that manifest distinctive interaction among narrators, protagonists, characters, and readers through a layering of voices, languages, time, sources, and identities. Employing the Martinican combat dance--danmye--as a trope, the author argues that these narratives can be read as testimony to the legacy of slavery, colonialism, and patriarchy that denied Caribbean people their subjectivity.

In chapters devoted to Zobel, Chamoiseau, Pineau, Danticat, and Conde--who come from Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Haiti--Larrier probes the presence, construction, and strategy of the first-person narrator, which sometimes shifts within the text itself. Providing a perspective different from European travel literature, these texts deliberately position the "I" as a witness and/or performer who articulates experiences ignored or misinterpreted by sojourners' more widely circulated chronicles. While not purporting to speak for others, the "I" is concerned with transmitting what he or she saw, heard, experienced, or endured, therefore disrupting conventional representations of the Francophone Caribbean. Moreover, in modeling authenticity and agency, autofiction is also a form of advocacy.

Renee Larrier is associate professor of French at Rutgers University.

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…informative, well-written book… Choice

…a valuable and original addition to the field of Caribbean Studies. Image [&] Narrative

…an impressive study that offers new insights into the struggle for advocacy in and the collage-like nature of Caribbean literature. Image [&] Narrative

" The real strength of his work lies in its close reading of canonical francophone Caribbean texts." Research in African Literatures

" This book contributes significantly to the study of Francophone Caribbean literature. Larrier skillfully and convincingly addresses the issues of self-representation, advocacy, and identity through pertinent examples of autofictions that challenge our understanding of Martinican, Guadeloupean and Haitian societies' complex forces." French Review

" Excellent close-text studies of contemporary novels, the strength of the study being reinforced by a thoroughly researched context. Every good library should have this study in its collection, and it should also be on every serious Caribbean scholar's shelves." Caribbean Studies

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