Reading Guadeloupe: Segu

Segu, by Maryse Condé, translated from the French by Barbara Bray

I’m not sure how to tackle this book. Massive amount of mixed emotions, which is a legit response to a creative work, right? I’m not in the business of in-depth reviews, so I’ll use that to my advantage here and just drop some basic thoughts…


  • Great to interact with the places and the history. I want to know more. So much more. The story takes place at a time and place of great change: A West African kingdom at the dawn of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, with Christianity and Europeans intruding from the west, and Islam sweeping in from the northern desert. Upheaval and uncertainly were everywhere, and it makes for dynamic ground for storytelling.


  • There is a lot of sexual assault in this book. Of children. I could not get past it.

So. There it is. This is a novel of larger cultural significance; much has been written about it, most of it positive. I’m afraid I’m not in that place with it, but you might be. That’s one of the reasons for my brevity when “reviewing”a work ; literature is for us to explore, and to get to know on our own.

View From The Southern Shore Of The Niger River
View From The Southern Shore Of The Niger River (image by GMason, via Wikimedia Commons)

Reading Guadeloupe: The Bridge of Beyond

The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart, translated from the French by Barbara Bray.

John Updike reviewed this book for The New Yorker. He wrote “The book’s gift of life is so generous, and its imagery so scintillant in the sunlight of love, that we believe every word.”

Yep. This book has power. It’s beautiful, and sad, and so many, many things. Read it this summer, outside in the heat, and let it flow over you.

“Behind one pain there is another. Sorrow is a wave without end. But the horse mustn’t ride you, you must ride it.”

Toussine, The Bridge of Beyond
Waterfall la Lézarde
Waterfall la Lézarde (image by Bobyfume, via Wikimedia Commons)

Country #58: Guadeloupe

This blog has taught me a lot. Things I probably should have learned in school, but didn’t. Like that France still seems to have a lot places under direct French control that are not actually France. I had no idea, which does me no credit to admit. It seems…complicated.


Back to the Caribbean! Always lovely! Looking forward to exploring, and learning a bit about what makes Guadeloupe…Guadeloupe.

Reading Russia: The Reindeer People

It took me close to a year to read this book. Not because of anything negative but because I wanted to really absorb it, to get to know it.

The older I get, the more obsessed I’ve become with The North. I want to travel above the Arctic Circle, I want to watch the Northern Lights, and see a polar bear where polar bears live. Not sure why this fascination has become so strong…maybe as the planet gets warmer, the cold feels like powerful magic?

But why try to explain it? Just jump in and learn instead. This book, The Reindeer People: Living With Animals and Spirits in Siberia by Piers Vitebsky, is excellent immersion in a world few of us will ever get to see. You’re introduced to an amazing cast of characters, and it’s easy to develop a deep bond with just about the whole crew, the reindeer, and the natural world that dominates their lives. Highly recommended, and I feel certain you will finish it much faster than I did!

Reindeer Pulling a Sledge
Reindeer Pulling a Sledge (image by Elen Schurova from Moscow, Russia via Wikimedia Commons)