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)

Reading Turks and Caicos: Looking Back in Salt Cay: Preserving Our Life, Our History, Our Legacy

I’ve been at this blog long enough to kind of predict my reading choices before I start research on a new country. When beachy island nations are on deck, it often means travel guides, or books written by expats or people passing through. Nothing wrong with any of that, but not quite what I’m looking for. But! Turks and Caicos delivers more!

Looking Back in Salt Cay: Preserving Our Life, Our History, Our Legacy by Patronella “Peggy” Been is a personal, candid view into life on Salt Cay, one of the more lightly-inhabited islands in the Turks and Caicos group. It’s like a family conversation at Christmas about how life was back in the day, and just the kind of book I always hope to find. Getting a glimpse into the basics of real life – what the houses where like, what people ate, how they shopped, what toys the kids played with – doesn’t happen every day.

Salt Cay’s fortunes have changed over the last 40 years, and the author lives on one of the other islands now. It was hard to even find a usable (copyright matters, people!) photo of that island, so I chose one of the island I was supposed to visit earlier this year…so lovely!


Shore of North Caicos
Shore of North Caicos (image by Dirk 2112, via Wikimedia Commons)



Reading The Gambia: The Sun Will Soon Shine

Though she be but littleshe is fierce.” – William Shakespeare

The Sun Will Soon Shine by Sally Sadie Singhateh is all the proof  you’ll ever need that a powerful story can be told with the slightest of touches.

Clocking in at just over 100 pages, this slim book packs a serious punch with a protagonist you love right away; you deeply feel her pain, and her triumphs.

A Woman Walking, Gambia
A Woman Walking, Gambia