School Days (Paperback)
University of Nebraska Press, 9780803263765, 146pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 1997
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School Days (Chemin-d’Ecole) is a captivating narrative based on Patrick Chamoiseau’s childhood in Fort-de-France, Martinique. It is a revelatory account of the colonial world that shaped one of the liveliest and most creative voices in French and Caribbean literature today.
Through the eyes of the boy Chamoiseau, we meet his severe, Francophile teacher, a man intent upon banishing all remnants of Creole from his students’ speech. This domineering man is succeeded by an equally autocratic teacher, an Africanist and proponent of “Negritude.” Along the way we are also introduced to Big Bellybutton, the class scapegoat, whose tales of Creole heroes and heroines, magic, zombies, and fantastic animals provide a fertile contrast to the imported French fairy tales told in school.
In prose punctuated by Creolisms and ribald humor, Chamoiseau infuses the universal terrors, joys, and disappointments of a child’s early school days with the unique experiences of a Creole boy forced to confront the dominant culture in a colonial school. School Days mixes understanding with laughter, knowledge with entertainment—in ways that will fascinate and delight readers of all ages.
About the Author
Patrick Chamoiseau’s novel, Texaco, won the coveted Prix Goncourt in 1992 and has since been published in fourteen languages. He lives in Martinique. His Creole Folktales recently appeared in a widely praised English translation by Linda Coverdale whose many other translations include Annie Ernaux’s A Frozen Woman.
Praise For School Days…
"An engaging and warm-hearted introduction to Chamoiseau’s world."—Times Literary Supplement
— Times Literary Supplement
"A bewitching writer . . . Chamoiseau’s particular gift is to be both buoyant in spirit and trenchant in observation."—New York Times Book Review
— New York Times Book Review
"Sardonic and lyrical."—Publishers Weekly
— Publishers Weekly
"Chamoiseau’s language is a curious mixed breed, enough classical French to please the Academy and enough Creole to paint his subject. It is a sophisticated mixture of music and meaning."—Los Angeles Times
— Los Angeles Times
"A joy to read."—Chicago Tribune
— Chicago Tribune
"Imaginative and moving." —Washington Post
— Washington Post