Raphaël Confiant

Article Works www
additional name:
Raphael
crossroads:
colonialism, creoles, interculturalism, language
genre(subgenre):
Written and spoken word (general)
region:
America, Caribbean
country/territory:
Martinique (France)
created on:
April 28, 2005
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since January 3, 2011. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Article

Raphaël Confiant was born in Lorrain, a small village in northern Martinique, in 1951. He attended school in Fort-de-France and studied in Aix-en-Provence. Since 1979 he has been Professor of English and Creole on Martinique.
In 1982 he helped found the independent weekly newspaper ´Antilla´, which is distributed in the Antilles and French Guyana. As a ´chabin´, a pale-skinned person with negroid features, Confiant identifies himself with being Creole. Being of mixed race sets him apart from his legendary literary predecessor, the Caribbean author Aimé Césaire, who focused on his African roots. Confiant wrote his first books in Creole, the language of the plantation workers, which had only been passed on orally. He remembers, "Writing in Creole was like blazing a trail through a virgin forest. I had never read or even seen a book in Creole at this point! I had to hunt for words and invent a way to spell them. It was exciting but discouraging, because no publisher was mad enough to invest money in producing books no one could read. We were forced to publish our works at our own expense."

The verbal inventiveness which Confiant initially adopted also pervades the style of his French writing. In 1988 he wrote his first novel in French, ´Eau de café´. Its acceptance by a Paris publisher inspired him to such an extent that he wrote another novel, ´Le Nègre et l’Amiral´, within four months. This was published before the first book. Confiant explains his spurt of creativity as follows: "Shifting from Creole into French was like trading in a 2 CV for a BMW!" This led the author to translate one of his Creole novels, ´Marisosé´ (1987), into French himself, paving the way for editions in other languages. ´Mamzell Libellule´, the 1994 French title, also appeared in German as ´Das Schmetterlingskostüm´ in 1998.

Confiant has won many awards for his work. In 1993 he received the Prix Casa de las Americas and the Prix Jet Tours for his childhood memoires, ´Ravines du devant-jour´, which he dedicated to "all the little ´chabins´ of the world". As a writer he has embraced various genres, ranging from the detective story to the historical novel. His latest book, ´Brin d’amour´ (2001), falls roughly into the latter category. The story unfolds about 40 years ago, when the large sugar cane plantations, subsequently victims of tourism, were still in existence. Confiant’s reminiscences transport him back to his childhood. He is nostalgic, but also critical. The central character, Lysiane, flees her narrow-minded milieu by remaining silent, reading, and writing.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)

Works

L´émerveillable chute de Louis Augustin : Et autres nouvelles

Published Written,
2010
Ecriture: Paris

L´ Allée des Soupirs

Published Written,
2010
Gallimard: Paris

L´hôtel du bon plaisir

Published Written,
2010
Gallimard: Paris

Le Meurtre du Samedi-Gloria

Published Written,
2009
Mercure de France: Paris

Case à Chine

Published Written,
2009
Gallimard: Paris

Les ténèbres extérieures

Published Written,
2008
Ecriture: Paris

Black is Black

Published Written,
2008
Editions Alphée: Monaco

Chlordécone : 12 mesures pour sortir de la crise

Published Written,
2007
With Louis Boutrin. L´Harmattan: Paris

Adèle et la pacotilleuse

Published Written,
2007
Gallimard: Paris

Aimé Césaire : Une traversée paradoxale du siècle

Published Written,
2006
With Jean Bernabé Ecriture: Paris

La panse du chacal

Published Written,
2005
Gallimard: Paris

Commandeur du sucre, Tome 2 : Régisseur du rhum

Published Written,
2004
Pocket: Paris

Nuee ardente

Published Written,
2004
Sodis(Folio,L Imaginaire): Lagny

Le grand livre des proverbes créoles: Ti-pawol

Published Written,
2004
Presses du Châtelet: Paris  

Le barbare enchanté

Published Written,
2003
Ecriture: Paris

La dissidence

Published Written,
2003
Ecriture: Paris

Mamzelle Libellule

Published Written,
2003
Serpent a Plumes: Paris

La lessive du diable

Published Written,
2003
Les Editions du Rocher: Paris

L´ Archet du colonel

Published Written,
2001
Mercure de France: Paris

Mamzelle Dragonfly

Published Written,
2001
University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln

Commandeur du sucre

Published Written,
2000
Écriture: Paris

Eau de café

Published Written,
2000
Grasset: Paris

Le cahier de romances

Published Written,
2000
Gallimard: Paris

La Vierge du Grand Retour

Published Written,
1996
Grasset: Paris

Le nègre et l´amiral

Published Written,
1988
GRASSET: Paris

Www

International Festival of Literature Berlin