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Writing from the Indian Ocean

May 2012

This month we spotlight writing from the islands of Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, and Mayotte.  Francophone writing in the region dates back to the eighteenth century; the coexistence of French with the area’s other languages (Creole, Malagasy, Arabic, and Hindi), and its relationship to French colonialism, inflect writers’ thematic, stylistic, and syntactic choices.  See how J. William Cally, Ananda Devi, Nassuf Djailani, Michel Ducasse, Boris Gamaleya, Alain Gordon-Gentil, Carpanin Marimoutou and Françoise Vergès, Esther Nirina, Barlen Pyamootoo, Jean-Luc Raharimanana, and Umar Timol imaginatively engage with this complex heritage. We thank our guest editor, Françoise Lionnet, for assembling this fine collection. 

Insularity, Mobility, and Imagination: Writing from the Indian Ocean
By Françoise Lionnet
Francophone writing in the Mascarene region dates back to the eighteenth century.
The Iron Caterpillar
By J. William Cally
He had the sense of a giant creature slithering within the tunnel.
Translated from French by Paul Curtis Daw
Center of Flacq
By Barlen Pyamootoo
Flacq during the day is nothing more than a vast market; buy, sell, pound the pavements, work the sidewalks.
Translated from French by Danielle McLimore
Diary of an Old Mad Woman
By Umar Timol
So you come from there, it must be so beautiful so wonderful; why do you live here when your island is so lovely.
Translated from French by Joyce Fortuné-Pope
Multilingual
Traces of Our Fathers
By Alain Gordon Gentil
The prairies of Brittany have sugarcane in their memory.
Translated from French by Alexis Pernsteiner & Antoine Bargel
Weaving Dreams
By Ananda Devi
She answered, listening to the detailed instructions of the fabric against her skin.
Translated from French by Jean Anderson
Multilingual
Isle Say Blood
By Michel Ducasse
always the sea always / shameful the shameful ocean / bodies battered before touching the shore
Translated from French by Alexis Pernsteiner & Antoine Bargel
Multilingual
The Crossing toward Hope
By Nassuf Djailani
It’s raining bullets over Mutsamudu.
Translated from French by Nicole Ball & David Ball
Multilingual
But Your Eyes
By Esther Nirina
Smooth is the beach / Like the arch of my entrance / Refusing your doors.
Translated from French by Alison Anderson
The Sea Horses’ Ball
By Boris Gamaleya
The plane crashes . . . on the island of troubling roosters.
Translated from French by Alexis Pernsteiner & Antoine Bargel
Moorings: Indo-oceanic Creolizations
By Françoise Vergès & Carpanin Marimoutou
The horizon which traces a curved line—not a straight one as in the North—is the metaphor for our position.
Translated from French by David Ball & Nicole Ball
Multilingual
Kratos
By Jean-Luc Raharimanana
Now chant. / Dêmos / Kratos
Translated from French by Alexis Pernsteiner & Antoine Bargel
Multilingual
Famine
By Jean-Luc Raharimanana
The gecko got it right
Translated from French by Antoine Bargel & Alexis Pernsteiner
Multilingual