“Patrick Chamoiseau succeeds in his nuanced rewriting of the Crusoe legend, a masterpiece in which the protagonist, this time a black castaway, is not a figure of Western projection, but the proud inventor of himself. It is a thriller of consciousness, which is able to broaden European rationalism without denouncing it, a celebration of literature, presented in an equally sensual and fluid, complex language and congenially translated into German by Beate Thill.” (The jury on the shortlist nomination 2015)
The legend of Crusoe continues: the hero of the novel, a West African cabin boy who is marooned by his captain for disobedience, becomes stranded on a deserted isle and loses his memory. Like his literary role model, he reports of his survival as a castaway and how, using his own resources, the remains of a found ship and what the captain leaves him with (philosophical leaflets), he creates what he needs for survival. As in Defoe’s Crusoe the reader observes the hero as he matures through his adventures, learns to endure the loneliness, becomes self-confident and cheerful, but is possibly non-European as his memories bring images from another culture to light. Chamoiseau’s Robinson must redefine his identity, to later be visited by Captain Crusoe, who returns years later to see what has become of his marooned protégé.
Patrick Chamoiseau, born on Martinique in 1953, studied law and social economics in France and initially worked as a social worker. Following his return to the Antilles island of Martinique, his many works focused on research of the Creole culture. He published plays, novels, short stories and literary essays for which he received many awards. In 1992 he was awarded the Prix Goncourt for his novel Texaco.
Césaire, Perse, Glissant, les liaisons magnétiques; Éditions Philippe Rey 2013
Hypérion Victimaire; Éditions La Branche 2013
Le Papillon et la Lumière; Éditions Philippe Rey, Paris 2011
Recent publications in German translation:
Patrick Chamoiseau & Édouard Glissant: Brief an Barack Obama. Die unbezähmbare Schönheit der Welt, translated into the German by Beate Thill; Verlag Das Wunderhorn 2011 (L'intraitable beauté du monde. Adresse à Barack Obama; Galaade Éditions, Paris 2009)
Beate Thill, born in 1952, studied English and Geography. She is a radio journalist and writes about translation theory, feminism and film theory. In her literary translations from the English and French, her focus has been on literature from “the south,” primarily Africa and the Caribbean, including works by Assia Djebar, Abdelwahab Meddeb and Tchicaya U Tam’si. She discovered the work of poet and cultural critic Édouard Glissant for the German book market, translated his works and edited an anthology of his poems. She received the Internationaler Literaturpreis for her translation of the long poem L’énigme du retour by Dany Laferrière in 2014.
Dany Laferrière: Tagebuch eines Schriftstellers im Pyjama, Verlag Das Wunderhorn 2015 (Journal d’un écrivain en pyjama; Mémoire d'encier, Montreal 2013)
Dany Laferrière: Das Rätsel der Rückkehr, Verlag Das Wunderhorn 2014 (L'énigme du retour; Éditions Grasset & Fasquelle, Paris 2009/ Les Éditions du Boréal, Montréal 2009)
Assia Djebar: Nächte in Straßburg; S. Fischer Verlag 2012 (Les nuits de Strasbourg; Babel, Paris 1997)
Patrick Chamoiseau & Édouard Glissant: Brief an Barack Obama. Die unbezähmbare Schönheit der Welt; Verlag Das Wunderhorn 2011 (L'intraitable beauté du monde. Adresse à Barack Obama; Galaade Éditions, Paris 2009)
Édouard Glissant: Das magnetische Land: Die Irrfahrt der Osterinsel Rapa Nui; Verlag Das Wunderhorn 2010 (La terre magnétique: les errances de Rapa Nui, l'île de Pâques; Éditions du Seuil, Paris 2007)