School Days by Patrick Chamoiseau

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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 Patrick Chamoiseau

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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.
Published March 1, 1997 by University of Nebraska Press. 146 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Fiction

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Having already evoked the Creole experience in folktale (Creole Folktales, 1995) and novel (Texaco, 1997, which won France's Prix Goncourt), Martinique's Chamoiseau proves an inventive memoirist in his account of a boy's struggle to keep his identity in a school committed to crushing it.

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Publishers Weekly

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These memories recall the education of a young writer in the alternately humorous and tragic combination of a teacher who treated books ""like treasures sacred to a timeless ritual of which you were the last hierophant"" and Big Bellybutton, the tormented student who endowed his ""underground lan...

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