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Connecting Histories - Francophone Caribbean Writers Interrogating Their Past

Connecting Histories

Francophone Caribbean Writers Interrogating Their Past

By Bonnie Thomas
Series: Caribbean Studies Series

Hardcover : 9781496810557, 176 pages, April 2017
Paperback : 9781496825674, 176 pages, October 2019

A comprehensive introduction to five Caribbean writers and their confrontation with trauma


The Francophone Caribbean boasts a trove of literary gems. Distinguished by innovative, elegant writing and thought-provoking questions of history and identity, this exciting body of work demands scholarly attention. Its authors treat the traumatic legacies of shared and personal histories pervading Caribbean experience in striking ways, delineating a path towards reconciliation and healing. The creation of diverse personal narratives—encompassing autobiography, autofiction (heavily autobiographical fiction), travel writing, and reflective essay—remains characteristic of many Caribbean writers and offers poignant illustrations of the complex interchange between shared and personal pasts and how they affect individual lives.

Through their historically informed autobiography, the authors in this study—Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, Patrick Chamoiseau, Edwidge Danticat, and Dany Laferrière—offer compelling insights into confronting, coming to terms with, and reconciling their past. The employment of personal narratives as the vehicle to carry out this investigation points to a tension evident in these writers’ reflections, which constantly move between the collective and the personal. As an inescapably complex network, their past extends beyond the notion of a single, private life.

These contemporary authors from Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Haiti intertwine their personal memories with reflections on the histories of their homelands and on the European and North American countries they adopt through choice or necessity. They reveal a multitude of deep connections that illuminate distinct Francophone Caribbean experiences.


"Overall, Thomas brings an extremely insightful and productive apparatus to bear on the fascinting works of [Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, Patrick Chamoiseau, Edwidge Danticat, and Dany Laferrière]. This work is a welcome contribution both to the growing body of Glissantian analysis and to the study of Antillean (autobiographical) fiction."

- Laura McGinnis, French Studies Journal

"Includes many worthwhile commentaries and a wealth of scholarly references that will be valuable to students and general readers of Francophone Caribbean literature."

- Marie-Agnès Sourieau, French Review

"Bonnie Thomas's Connecting Histories examines memory and trauma in Caribbean self-writing. Conversant with the fields of trauma theory and Caribbean thought, Thomas's book makes us read anew prominent contemporary writers Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Condé, Edwidge Danticat, Dany Laferrière, and Gisèle Pineau. Built in the mode of the quilt, her crystal-clear monograph will be indispensable to students and scholars of Caribbean literature and memory studies alike."

- Valérie Loichot, professor of French and English at Emory University and author of Orphan Narratives: The Postplantation Literature of Faulkner, Glissant, Morrison, and Saint-John Perse and The Tropics Bite Back: Culinary Coups in Caribbean Literature

"History remains a common preoccupation for virtually all Caribbean authors, and in this accessible, concise, and theoretically engaged study, Bonnie Thomas offers compelling analyses of important works and explores the complex ways in which time and history shape the content of classic Caribbean fiction."

- Martin Munro, Winthrop-King Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University and author of Tropical Apocalypse: Haiti and the Caribbean End Times