The "heart-stopping" (The Millions), "richly layered" (Brooklyn Rail), "haunting, beautiful" (BuzzFeed) story of an escaped slave and the killer hound that pursues him
"Slave Old Man is a cloudburst of a novel, swift and compressed--but every page pulses, blood-warm. . . . The prose is so electrifyingly synesthetic that, on more than one occasion, I found myself stopping to rub my eyes in disbelief."
--Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
Shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Patrick Chamoiseau's Slave Old Man was published to accolades in a brilliant translation by Linda Coverdale, winning the French-American Foundation Translation Prize and chosen as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018.
Slave Old Man is a gripping, profoundly unsettling story of an elderly slave's daring escape into the wild from a plantation in Martinique, with his master and a fearsome hound on his heels. We follow them into a lush rain forest where nature is beyond all human control: sinister, yet entrancing and even exhilarating, because the old man's flight to freedom will transform them all in truly astonishing--even otherworldly--ways, as the overwhelming physical presence of the forest reshapes reality and time itself.
Chamoiseau's exquisitely rendered new novel is an adventure for all time, one that fearlessly portrays the demonic cruelties of the slave trade and its human costs in vivid, sometimes hallucinatory prose. Offering a loving and mischievous tribute to the Creole culture of early nineteenth-century Martinique, this novel takes us on a unique and moving journey into the heart of Caribbean history.
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About the AuthorPatrick Chamoiseau is the author of Texaco, which won the Prix Goncourt and was a New York Times Notable Book, as well as Creole Folktales, among other works. He lives in Martinique.
Finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction
An Editor's Choice of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the 2019 Best Translated Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize
A Publishers Weekly's Best Book of 2018
"Imagine Walt Whitman adapting "Apocalypto" and you might approximate the awe and adrenaline of Chamoiseau's action pastoral."
--Julian Lucas, The New York Times Book Review
"Chamoiseau writes in a wild medley of French and Creole, sliding from dialect to classical expression like a freeform jazz musician. Linda Coverdale's translation, the first in English, is gloriously unshackled. . . . This [is a] beautiful book, by a writer who's as original as any I've read all year."
--Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"[Slave Old Man is] a myth-infused narrative . . . full of delightfully unexpected verbs . . . [that has] enduring power."
--The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Chamoiseau's texts are linguistic interventions . . . at once literary feats and statements of cultural political protest. . . . [Slave Old Man] is poignant, timely, and radical. . . . Linda Coverdale does an impeccable, sensitive job."
"A linguistic masterpiece. . . . If you want to read something fresh and different, this Martiniquan literary novel with its mishmash of languages, voices, and styles won't disappoint."
"A thunderclap of a novel. His rich language, brilliant in Linda Coverdale's English, evokes the underground forces of resistance that carry the slave old man away. It's a novel for fugitives, and for the future."
--Best Translated Book Award for Fiction, 2019
★ "One can't help but wonder why it took so long for this treasure to be translated into English. But it is here now, and the world Chamoiseau stitches together through the eyes of this aging runaway reveals the enduring cruelty of bondage and the endless creativity of its survivors and their descendants."
--Booklist (starred review)
★ "Martinique's great chronicler of the atrocity of Caribbean slavery. . . . [Slave Old Man] is electric and illuminating. . . . Chamoiseau's prose is astounding in its beauty. . . and he ups the stakes by making this novel a breathtaking thriller, as well."
--Publisher Weekly (starred review)