Patrick Chamoiseau

  • Patrick Chamoiseau
    Date of birth:
    December 3, 1953

Patrick Chamoiseau is a writer from Martinique. He is the author of novels, stories, essays that earned him the Goncourt Prize in 1992 for his novel Texaco. He is also a theorist of creolity and has written for the theater and cinema (Biguine in 2004, Nord-Plage in 2004, Aliker in 2007, or Le Passage du Milieu in 2009).

Born in Fort-de-France on December 3, 1953, Patrick Chamoiseau obtained his baccalaureate (high school diploma) in Martinique and then left for metropolitan France to study law and social economics. Afterwards, he became a social worker in France and then in Martinique.

He rediscovers the Creole language that he had to abandon during his primary education. His work depicts the features of the popular culture of Martinique, that of the little people and their struggles.

He will then be interested in ethnography and cultural forms in the process of disappearing from his native island, namely the "djobeurs" (black market workers) of the market of Fort-de-France that he evokes in Chronique des Sept misères. These handy men present on the markets of Fort-de-France were becoming increasingly rare and less influential. He also evokes the disappearance of the old storytellers. He deplores the disappearance of a form of creativity that fed the Creole identity.

According to Chamoiseau, departmentalization (in 1946, Martinique that was a French colony became a French Department) has had the effect of acculturating the Martinican people. In his third novel, Texaco, published in 1992, Patrick Chamoiseau explores the modern history of Martinique. This novel revisits in an original way the epic of the small Martinican people through the story of the struggle of the inhabitants of a shantytown located on the seashore, near the refineries of Fort-de-France. It evokes the fight for the preservation of certain authentic Creole ways of life.

This novel, which won the Prix Goncourt, is recognized as one of the major West Indian works of the late 20th century. Chamoiseau also questions the forms of Creole expression. Taking note of the existence of a Creole culture essentially worked by orality, he envisages the development of an oral literature for which the writer, inheriting oral turns of phrase and Creole storytellers, would have the role of "marker of words".

Patrick Chamoiseau qui se réclame de William Faulkner tient avant tout à l’inventivité de sa langue qui emprunte tant au français qu'au créole et multiplie les créations lexicales. Son dernier roman, Un dimanche au cachot publié en 2007, il confirme à la fois l'importance de la mémoire de l'esclavage dans son œuvre et sa richesse lexicale.

He then gets closer to the writer Raphaël Confiant and the linguist Jean Bernarbé with whom they will defend the concept of creolité. They will follow the way opened by Edouard Glissant and plead for the linguistic plurality.

He claims the transcultural shift. He evokes his literary approach and his artistic itinerary in a recent essay called Écrire en pays dominé. He denounces the permanence of the colonizing phenomenon whose violence continues in insidious forms.

Patrick Chamoiseau, who claims to be inspired by William Faulkner, is above all attached to the inventiveness of his language, which borrows from both French and Creole and multiplies lexical creations. His latest novel, Un dimanche au cachot published in 2007, confirms both the importance of the memory of slavery in his work and its lexical richness.

Literary works :

  • Chronique des sept misères (1986)
  • Solibo le magnifique (1988)
  • Éloge de la créolité (1989)
  • Lettres créoles (1991)
  • Écrire en pays dominé (1997)