THE DRIFTING OF SPIRITS by Gisèle Pineau

THE DRIFTING OF SPIRITS

by & translated by
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The 1993 winner of the Prix Carbet joins the well-received fiction of Patrick Chamoiseau as another sterling illustration of the work of the Caribbean “Créolité Movement.” In a hypnotically lyrical first-person voice (that of an astonished outside observer), Parisian-born Guadaloupean Pineau spins the irresistible tale of a village family (living in “Haute Terre”) cursed by its closeness with the spirits of the dead, who direct its actions over the rough half-century (1928–76) following a philandering patriarch’s blithe misdeeds. The central figures are his son Leoncé, the unlucky possessor of both a clubfoot and a caul, the latter’s beautiful wife Myrtha, and their variously doomed children. The story climaxes wonderfully when Leoncé’s daughter Célestina meets an avatar of the mythical Baron Samedi (Death incarnate)—but it functions at an equally high level of poetic intensity throughout: Pineau invests her characters with a vitality and dignity every bit as powerful as the fatalism that circumscribes, without ever impoverishing, their colorful lives. A high-spirited, gorgeously constructed and imagined minor classic.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7043-8101-X
Page count: 246pp
Publisher: Quartet/Interlink
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2000