Patrick Chamoiseau

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Patrick Chamoiseau
Patrick Chamoiseau (Strasbourg, June 2009)
Born3 December 1953 Edit this on Wikidata
Fort-de-France Edit this on Wikidata
WorksTexaco Edit this on Wikidata
StyleNovels, essays, tales, film scripts
AwardsPrix Goncourt

Patrick Chamoiseau (born 3 December 1953) is a French author from Martinique known for his work in the créolité movement. His work spans a variety of forms and genres, including novels, essays, children's books, screenplays, theatre and comics. His novel Texaco was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1992.


Chamoiseau was born on 3 December 1953 in Fort-de-France, Martinique, where he resides. After he studied law in Paris, he returned to Martinique, inspired by Édouard Glissant to take a close interest in Creole culture.

In 1981, he was the co-author, with Georges Puisy, of a historical work on the Antilles under the reign of Napoléon Bonaparte, Delgrès : les Antilles sous Bonaparte. In 1989, he was the co-author of Éloge de la créolité (In Praise of Creoleness) with Jean Bernabé and Raphaël Confiant.

Chamoiseau has received several awards. In 1990, he received the Prix Carbet for Antan d'enfance, the first book in an autobiographical trilogy collectively titled Une enfance créole.[1] His 1992 novel Texaco 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 1999, Chamoiseau was honoured with a Prince Claus Award for his contribution to Caribbean society.

Chamoiseau's writing style has sometimes been compared to that of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, for how they explore the relationship between the written and the oral.[3]

Writing style and approach[edit]

Masculinity versus femininity[edit]

The dynamics and relationship between men and women have been a long-time subject of literature in the Caribbean. The concept of "masculinity" versus "femininity" is a literary theme 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 writers that come out of the Caribbean, this topic of conversation is primarily male driven and takes the "masculinist" perspective.[4]

Chamoiseau has often been criticized as 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 on 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. [citation needed]

However, his literary work in the children's story "Kosto et ses deux enfants" (from Émerveilles) 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; in the story, this theme is contrasted by the main male character becoming an upstanding and respectable father figure.[4]


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 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. [citation needed]

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 chooses 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. [citation needed]



  • Chronique des sept misères (1986). Translated by Linda Coverdale as Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows (University of Nebraska Press, 1999).
  • Solibo magnifique (1988). Translated by Rose-Myriam Réjouis and Val Vinokurov as Solibo Magnificent (Pantheon, 1998; Granta, 1999).
  • Texaco (1992). Translated by Rose-Myriam Réjouis and Val Vinokurov (Pantheon/Granta, 1997).
  • L'Esclave vieil homme et le Molosse (1997). Translated by Linda Coverdale under the titles Slave Old Man (The New Press, 2018) and The Old Slave and the Mastiff (Dialogue Books, 2018).
  • Biblique des derniers gestes (2002).
  • Un dimanche au cachot (2008).
  • Les Neuf consciences du malfini (2009).
  • L'Empreinte à Crusoé (2012).
  • Hypérion victimaire : Martiniquais épouvantable (2013). Republished as J'ai toujours aimé la nuit (2017).
  • La Matière de l'absence (2016).
  • Le Conteur, la Nuit et le Panier (2021)
  • Le Vent du nord dans les fougères glacées (2022)


  • Antan d'enfance (1990). Translated by Carol Volk as Childhood (University of Nebraska Press/Granta, 1999).
  • Chemin d'école (1994). Translated by Linda Coverdale as School Days (University of Nebraska Press, 1997; Granta, 1998).
  • À bout d'enfance (2005).


  • Éloge de la créolité (1989). With Jean Bernabé et Raphaël Confiant.
  • Martinique (1989). Photographs by Michel Renaudeau and Emmanuel Valentin.
  • Lettres créoles : tracées antillaises et continentales de la littérature : Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane : 1635-1975 (1991). With Raphaël Confiant
  • Guyane : traces-mémoires du bagne (1994). Photographs by Rodolphe Hammadi.
  • Ecrire en pays dominé (1997).
  • Frères migrants (2017). Translated by Matthew Amos and Fredrik Rönnbäck as Migrant Brothers (Yale University Press, 2018).


  • Delgrès : les Antilles sous Bonaparte (1981). With Georges Puisy and illustrated by Georges Puisy.
  • Manman Dlo contre la fée Carabosse (1982).
  • Au temps de l'antan : contes du pays Martinique (1989). Translated by Linda Coverdale under the titles Creole Folktales (The New Press, 1994) and Strange Words (Granta, 1998).
  • Elmire des sept bonheurs (1998). Translated by Mark Polizzotti as Seven Dreams of Elmira (Zoland Books, 1999). Photographs by Jean-Luc de Laguarigue.
  • Le Papillon et la Lumière (2013). Illustrated by Ianna Andreadis.


  • L'Exil du roi Behanzin (1994). Directed by Guy Deslauriers.
  • Le Passage du Milieu (2000). Directed by Guy Deslauriers.
  • Biguine (2004). Directed by Guy Deslauriers.
  • Nord Plage (2004). Directed by José Hayot.
  • Aliker (2009). Directed by Guy Deslauriers.


  • "Monsieur Coutcha" by Tony Delsham. Monthly comic that started in 1972, illustrated by Chamoiseau under the pseudonym "Abel". Compiled and published as Le retour de Monsieur Coutcha (1984).[5]
  • Encyclomerveille d'un tueur #1 : L'orphelin de Cocoyer Grands-Boi (2009).[6] Illustrated by Thierry Ségur.

Children's literature

  • Émerveilles (1998).

Honors and awards[edit]

  • 1986: Prix Kléber Haedens, for Chronique des sept misères
  • 1986: Prix de l'île Maurice, for Chronique des sept misères
  • 1987: Prix international francophone Loys Masson, for Chronique des sept misères
  • 1988: Grand Prix de la littérature de jeunesse, for Au temps de l’antan
  • 1989: "Mention" Premio Grafico Fiera di Bologna per la Gioventù de la Foire du livre de jeunesse de Bologne (Italie) for Au temps de l'antan : contes du pays Martinique
  • 1990: Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe, for Antan d'enfance
  • 1992: Prix Goncourt for Texaco
  • 1999: Prince Claus Award
  • 2002: Prix Spécial du Jury RFO, for Biblique des derniers gestes
  • 2008: Prix du Livre RFO, for Un dimanche au cachot
  • 2010: Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres
  • 2016: Prix international Nessim Habif, for La Matière de l'absence
  • 2019: Best Translated Book Award (Slave Old Man)
  • 2023: Prix Marguerite-Yourcenar

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Zvomuya, Percy, Refuge for the wretched, Mail & Guardian, 24 August 2012.
  3. ^ Cornille, Jean-Louis (2013). "Soul limbo féérique (Chamoiseau avec Céline)". Nouvelles Études Francophones. 28 (1): 32–43. ISSN 1552-3152. JSTOR 24244748.
  4. ^ a b c 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. ^ Knepper, Wendy (2007). "Remapping the Crime Novel in the Francophone Caribbean: The Case of Patrick Chamoiseau's "Solibo Magnifique"". PMLA. 122 (5): 1431–1446. doi:10.1632/pmla.2007.122.5.1431. ISSN 0030-8129. JSTOR 25501795. S2CID 162290948.
  6. ^ "Encyclomerveille d'un tueur 1. L'Orphelin de Cocoyer Grands-Bois" at Delcourt.

External links[edit]