Solibo Magnificent
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Solibo Magnificent

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  255 ratings  ·  24 reviews
It's Carnival time in Fort-de-France, Martinique. Before an uninterrupted public, Solibo Magnificent, the great teller of tales, is felled, seemingly choked by his own words. Is it autostrangulation or murder? Two police officers lead the investigation, but what they discover is a transitory universe at the threshold of oblivion - the universe of the Masters of the Word wh...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published 1999 by Granta (first published 1988)
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Disliked the writing style. Every sentence is filled with extraneous information. The writing is disjointed and confusing, stuffed with words that must be found either in the glossaries at the end of the book or translation notes in tiny text at the bottom of the pages.

Every time I pick up this book I think, now I will understand, I must have been tired last time I tried to read it. But every time the same thing happens. I don't understand what the heck is being said and think: jeez, get to the...more
Leeyanne Moore
I love this book because it uses meta-fiction so naturally to bring the author into the narrative, and it has a very dry use of humor. I particularly love how the author uses great narratorial techniques to show how authorities automatically dismiss and denigrate the poor people they encounter and how the author gets wrapped up into the same shocking off-hand dismissal. It's brilliant.

This is the kind of writing that I find says more about the human spirit and says it more accurately than other...more
Jun 27, 2007 Nancy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Storytellers and those that love them
The art of storytelling is alive and well but in Chamoiseau's tale the storyteller has done the ultimate -- he has become a magnificent tale. A story of clashing cultures and the misunderstanding of an art form, this great book is a teaching tool for the beauty and art of wordsmithing.
Brittany Lee
Solibo, solibo, solibo.
The more important question was, who was Solibo, not why (or rather how) did he reach his ultimate demise. It is unfortunate that when we meet Solibo that he is at the end of his long journey. This, however, magnifies his inevitable death. I don't think it'll be lost on anyone that Solibo is the loss of the once prevalant oral tradition of telling story to the progression to written works. Solibo was the last of his kind, dying what was presumed a natural death. What I fou...more
Chamoiseau c'est un écrivain pour lequel l'équilibre entre l'écriture et la tradition orale c'est la direction fondamental de sa propre recherche. Voila pourquoi cet "improbable" roman policier peut être considéré comme un acte d'amour pour "les mots. Toutes les mots" (comme l'auteur même admit), et pour cette tradition orale que, comme Solibo, n'arrive pas à survivre (pour asphyxie elle aussi) dans une modernité de plus en plus sourde (et muette?).
Le roman nous donne des portraits savoureuses d...more
This is my first time reading a novel about Martinique, or any of the French Caribbean islands for that matter. To say the least, it was very insightful! The novel was presented in a very interesting way and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the novel was written. Chamoiseau, the author, sets himself in the novel as the narrator/character and writes down all of the events in the investigation of Solibo's death. Chamoiseau attempts to unify the two different cultures, namely the Creole oral culture an...more
Solibo Magnificent by Patrick Chamoisseau compares and contrasts, yet also highlights, the importance of both written and oral language in the city of Fort-de-France, Martinique. The storyteller Solibo Magnificent dies during one of his storytelling sessions and this event symbolizes the death of the Creole language. The French are the ones in power in Martinique, and they impose French as the dominant language, forcing the Creole language to die out. Meanwhile, Chamoisseau, the narrator, uses w...more
When the title character, Solibo Magnificent, a popular storyteller in Fort-de-France, Martinique dies suddenly in the middle of telling a story during an annual carnival, the local police force swoop in with all of their over-eagerness and power-hunger to accuse the witnesses - the listeners of the story - of murder. The inspector takes all of them (including the author and protagonist of the book in a sort of story-within-a-story sort of manner) in for questioning; despite their insistance of...more
Beautiful, florid, transporting descriptions, captures the violently ludicrous and rampaging nature of law enforcement, and a lament to the fading art of storytelling in a world very different from the one I'm used to. Gorgeous.
Magical realist tropes that would otherwise seem tired somehow become fresh when touched with Creole wordplay and insertion of the author as character. Martinique, for such a small country, has produced so much damn literary intelligence. I do, on the other hand, feel like this is just stock magical realism, and I've seen a great deal of what goes on in this book done better by Grass, Marquez, and especially Rushdie.
Prooost Davis
This is the best book I've read in a long time. It is ostensibly a police procedural, but it's also a lament for the loss of Martinique's oral storytelling tradition.

The language sings, even in translation. There's plenty of humor, but the ending is very powerful.
This is probably considerably better in the original, semi-made-up, half French, half Creole it was written in. It's all very good as a metaphor for a dying language, but kind of not very interesting as a story. I liked the bit about the ants.
Cisco Nunuvyurbiznes
Really good but not great. I read it a few years ago and I'm wondering if I read it now would I not think it is much better maybe a four star. It is pretty sad from a racial perspective. But it is definately worth checking out.
Chamoiseau writes so poetically and beautifully. I love his use of metaphor and simile. Took me to a whole other world in Martinique. GREAT writer! Interesting twist on the detective story formula.
this book rocks. it's like having a storyteller stand before you and recite/perform the story--wisdom, horrifying parts, humor, and all. plus we had some killer class discussions based on this book.
I finally got around to reading this one. I wasn't blown away but I did appreciate its humor and the storytelling aspect.
Beautiful, brave, cutting, elegiac, comic, cruel, bewildered and irreverent. Funny and horrifying and horrifyingly funny.
Sep 09, 2007 Rachel is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Caribbean lit lovers
This book is for my Francophone literature class. I just started it. It's a detective novel that takes place in Martinique.
This was one of those "why not?" purchases. Joyous read...another due a re-read, methinks!
i love this book. the storytelling of it is like nothing else i have ever read.
Compared with school days it doesn't measure up. I did like it though.
15 pages in and I am blown away by the beauty and emotion. SO GOOD!
John Barnett lent me this with his highest recommendations!
Oren Whightsel
Jun 28, 2007 Oren Whightsel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction
the power of the word...
Donna marked it as to-read
Aug 12, 2014
Hector Diaz
Hector Diaz marked it as to-read
Aug 09, 2014
Judith Witters
Judith Witters marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2014
Sarah marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2014
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