Mauritian Francophone Literature with translator Jeffrey Zuckerman
November 12, 2019, 7:00 PM
A chance encounter on Portobello Road incites an unsettling, magnetic attraction between Mary, a seventy-five-year-old white British spinster, and Cub, a thirteen-year-old Jamaican boy from Brixton. Mary clings increasingly to phantoms as dementia overtakes her reality, latching on to Cub and channeling her remaining energy into their relationship. But their macabre romance comes to a horrific climax, as white supremacy, poverty, and class conflict explode on the streets of London.
Through exquisite juxtaposition, Ananda Devi uses alluring prose to confront the tensions of an increasingly nationalistic metropolis, and to examine the queasy nature of desire muddled with power.
Ananda Devi was born in 1957 in Mauritius, noted for its confluence of diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic identities. Devi won her first literary prize at the age of fifteen for a short story in a Radio France Internationale competition. After a few years spent in Congo-Brazzaville, Devi moved to Ferney-Voltaire in Switzerland in 1989, where she lives today. She has published twelve novels as well as short stories and poetry, and was featured at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York in 2015. Her literary awards include the Prix des Cinq Continents de la Francophonie (2006) and Prix Télévision Suisse Romande (2007) for Ève de ses décombres, as well as the Prix Louis-Guilloux (2010) and the Prix Mokanda (2012) for other works. In 2010 Devi was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government and in 2014 she was awarded the Prix du Rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises by the Académie Française. Her latest novel, Manger l'autre (2018) won the Prix Étonnants Voyageurs.
About Silence of the Chagos and Shenaz Patel:
Based on the true, still-unfolding story of the expelled Chagossians' fight for their homeland, Silence of the Chagos is a powerful exploration of cultural identity, the concept of home, and above all the neverending desire for justice.Every afternoon a woman in a red headscarf walks to the end of the quay and looks out over the water, fixing her gaze "back there"--to Diego Garcia, one of the small islands forming the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean. With no explanation, no forewarning, and only an hour to pack their belongings, the entire population of Diego Garcia was forced on a boat headed to Mauritius. Government officials told Charlesia that the island was "closed;" there was no going back for any of them. Charlesia longs for life on Diego Garcia, where she spent her days harvesting coconuts and her nights dancing to sega music. As she struggles to come to terms with the injustice of her new reality, Charlesia crosses paths with Désiré, a young man born on the one-way journey to Mauritius. Désiré has never set foot on Diego Garcia, but as Charlesia unfolds the dramatic story of their people, he learns of the home he never knew and of the life he might have had.
With the Chagos' sovereignty currently being adjudicated by the United Nations Silence of the Chagos is an important and humanizing exploration of the rights of individuals and a reckoning with displacement on a global scale