Patrick Chamoiseau

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Patrick Chamoiseau
Patrick Chamoiseau (Strasbourg, June 2009)
Patrick Chamoiseau (Strasbourg, June 2009)
Born (1953-12-03) 3 December 1953 (age 66)
Fort-de-France (Martinique)
GenreNovels, essays, tales, film scripts
Notable awardsPrix Goncourt (1992)

Patrick Chamoiseau (born 3 December 1953) is a French author from Martinique known for his work in the créolité movement.


Chamoiseau was born on 3 December 1953 in Fort-de-France, Martinique, where he currently resides. After he studied law in Paris he returned to Martinique inspired by Édouard Glissant to take a close interest in Creole culture. Chamoiseau is the author of a historical work on the Antilles under the reign of Napoléon Bonaparte and several non-fiction books which include Éloge de la créolité (In Praise of Creoleness), co-authored with Jean Bernabé and Raphaël Confiant. Awarded the Prix Carbet (1990) for Antan d’enfance.[1] His novel Texaco was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1992, and was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. It has been described as "a masterpiece, the work of a genius, a novel that deserves to be known as much as Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and Cesaire’s Return to My Native Land.[2]

In 1998, Chamoiseau was honoured with a Prince Claus Award for his contribution to Caribbean society.

Chamoiseau may also safely be considered as one of the most innovative writers to hit the French literary scene since Louis-Ferdinand Céline. His freeform use of French language — a highly complex yet fluid mixture of constant invention and "creolism" — fuels a poignant and sensuous depiction of Martinique people in particular and humanity at large.

Writing Style and Approach[edit]

Masculinity versus Femininity[edit]

The dynamics and relationship between men and women has been a long-time subject of literature in the Caribbean. The concept of ‘masculinity’ versus ‘femininity’ is a literary theme that is indicative of Caribbean literature. Patrick Chamoiseau, like many other authors from the Caribbean, uses this theme in many of his literary works. However, as there are a larger number of male writer that come out of the Caribbean, this topic of conversation is primarily male driven, and takes the ‘masculinist’ perspective.[3]

Chamoiseau has often been criticized as being a somewhat patriarchal literary figure after having founded the masculinist Créolité movement in the Antilles archipelago. The founding of this movement was intended to bring pride and nationalism to the male Antillean population that had been emasculated for centuries by being barred from holding positions of power and authority by their European colonizers. The practice of slavery can be argued to have had a more detrimental effect on the male slave population than the female slave population, as white slave owners attempting to have sexual affairs with female slaves would often offer them more privileges compared to their male counterparts. However, his literary work in the children's book "Kosto et ses deux enfants" is in stark contrast to his typical patriarchal and masculine nature.[4]

The representation of men in Caribbean literature is typically portrayed in a negative light; however, in Chamoiseau's children's book "Kosto et ses deux enfants," this theme is contrasted by the main male character becoming an upstanding and respectable father figure.[5]


A question that many writers from the Caribbean try to answer is 'What does it mean to be Caribbean?'. This question is the subject of a search for identity, and the word that Chamoiseau and his colleagues used to answer this question is "Creoleness". Creoleness refers to how different cultures adapt and blend together on islands or isolated areas, which in the case of the Caribbean, refers to the blending of African, Polynesian, and Asian cultures with that of their European colonizers. This idea of Creoleness contrasts the idea of "Americanness" in that it existed prior to America, and that "Americanness" excludes it interaction with the indigenous population.[6]

This relates to Patrick Chamoiseau's writing style in that his choices are purposeful as his overall goal is to express this concept of Creoleness. Creole Folktales is a prime example from his works. The collection itself takes place around the 17th century in the French Antilles and Chamoiseau casts storyteller-narrator and uses creole in order to recreate the tradition of storytelling in the Antilles that was primarily oral. Chamoiseau choses these aspects to add to his writings as oral and historical accuracy are important in the representation of the Antilles and are crucial in bring awareness to Creoleness.[7]



  • Chronique des sept misères (1986)
  • Solibo magnifique (1988) -- See Translation by Rose Réjouis and Val Vinokur. "Solibo Magnificent" (Random House, 1997)
  • Antan d'enfance (1990).
  • Texaco (1992) -- See Translation by Rose Réjouis and Val Vinokur. Texaco (Random House, 1997)
  • Chemin d'école (1994). Published in English under the title School Days
  • L'Esclave vieil homme et le molosse (1997)
  • Émerveilles (1998)
  • Biblique des derniers gestes (2002)
  • À Bout d'enfance (2005)
  • Un dimanche au cachot (2008), Prix RFO du livre
  • Les Neuf Consciences du malfini (2009)
  • L'empreinte à Crusoé (2012)

Antan d'enfance, Chemin d'école and À Bout d'enfance form the autobiographical trilogy Une enfance Créole.



  • L'Exil du roi Behanzin (1994)
  • Le Passage du Milieu (2000)
  • Biguine (2004)
  • Nord Plage (2004)
  • Aliker (2007)


  • "Monsieur Coutcha", under the name "Abel", with Tony DELSHAM (one of the first caribbean cartoons, published during the 1970).
  • Encyclomerveille d'un tueur 1. L'Orphelin de Cocoyer Grands-Bois (2009)[8]

Children's literature[edit]

  • Emerveilles (1998)


  • "Éloge de la créolité" (with Jean Bernabé et Raphaël Confiant) (1989)
  • "Lettres créoles. Tracées antillaises et continentales de la littérature" (with Raphaël Confiant) (1991)
  • "Martinique" (with V. Renaudeau) (1994)
  • "Guyane: Traces-Mémoires du bagne" (1994)
  • "Ecrire en pays dominé" (1997)
  • "Elmire des sept bonheurs: confidences d'un vieux travailleur de la distillerie Saint-Etienne" (1998)

Further reading[edit]

  • Wendy Knepper, Patrick Chamoiseau: A Critical Introduction (2012): [1]
  • Rose Réjouis, "Object Lessons: Metaphors of Agency in Walter Benjamin's "The Task of the Translator" and Patrick Chamoiseau's SOLIBO MAGNIFIQUE" (See


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Refuge for the wretched, by PERCY ZVOMUYA, Mail & Guardian, 24 August 2012.
  3. ^ Gaeta, Jill M. (2010). "Reevaluating the 'Masculine' and 'Feminine': Patrick Chamoiseau's "Kosto et ses deux enfants"". The French Review. 84 (1): 140–149. ISSN 0016-111X. JSTOR 25758340.
  4. ^ Gaeta, Jill M. (2010). "Reevaluating the 'Masculine' and 'Feminine': Patrick Chamoiseau's "Kosto et ses deux enfants"". The French Review. 84 (1): 140–149. ISSN 0016-111X. JSTOR 25758340.
  5. ^ Gaeta, Jill M. (2010). "Reevaluating the 'Masculine' and 'Feminine': Patrick Chamoiseau's "Kosto et ses deux enfants"". The French Review. 84 (1): 140–149. ISSN 0016-111X. JSTOR 25758340.
  6. ^ Gaeta, Jill M. (2010). "Reevaluating the 'Masculine' and 'Feminine': Patrick Chamoiseau's "Kosto et ses deux enfants"". The French Review. 84 (1): 140–149. ISSN 0016-111X. JSTOR 25758340.
  7. ^ Gaeta, Jill M. (2010). "Reevaluating the 'Masculine' and 'Feminine': Patrick Chamoiseau's "Kosto et ses deux enfants"". The French Review. 84 (1): 140–149. ISSN 0016-111X. JSTOR 25758340.
  8. ^ "Encyclomerveille d'un tueur 1. L'Orphelin de Cocoyer Grands-Bois" at Delcourt.

External links[edit]