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The Book of Emma

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Confined to a psychiatric hospital following the murder of her young daughter, Emma Bratte refuses to speak any language but her mother tongue. Dr. MacLeod has brought in an interpreter, Flore, to help him evaluate Emma's fitness to stand trial. "Both crazy and too lucid," an articulate and knowledgeable Emma relates her long battle against despair, through striking images ...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Insomniac Press (first published April 23rd 2001)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  82 ratings  ·  9 reviews

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Sara Houle
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La plume de l'autrice me hante encore... Une oeuvre superbement écrite et terriblement poignante. Je n'ai pas beaucoup aimé la fin, probablement parce que j'avais besoin d'autre chose à ce moment-là. Je vais éviter d'en dire plus, no spoilers.
This short novel in French explores the life and bloodline of one Haitian woman, Emma Bratte, through the perspective of the interpreter tasked with recording her testament – Flore. Flore works for the icy Dr. MacLeod in a psychiatric hospital in Montreal. She is a quiet, stable brown woman, whereas Emma is ‘deranged’ and so black as to be 'blue,' a color that seeps through her whole story like seawater. After failing to defend a dissertation on the transatlantic slave trade at a university in ...more
Sandrine Aufildesmots
Encore un livre dont je peux comprendre l'importance (lutte au racisme, féminisme), mais où la forme me perd complètement... ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of black female Haitian writing
Recommended to Doris by: a professor
Flore, a young woman with a Haitian background living in Montreal, has a job working as a translator for a psychiatrist in an asylum. One day, she is called to translate what Emma says, a patient who refuses to speak French. Through her stories, Emma pulls Flore increasingly into her family's history which comines personal with historical experiences of slavery, racism, individual and collective black womanhood. - I really liked the general idea of the book, but its structure and levels are so ...more
Charlie Hersh
Really powerful story, but I think it would have worked a lot better as a short story. Agnant struggles to fit so much in, and especially given Emma's very eloquent, poetic style of speech, it seemed as if Agnant spent a lot of time tripping over her own feet as she jumped from Issue to Issue. She evokes a lot of really strong images, of trying to maintain sanity with the crushing weight of colonialism on your shoulders and seeing the remnants of that history continuing to work against you even ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Cette histoire est très prenante du début à la fin. La "folie" du personnage principal se dévoile peu à peu comme étant le résultat plus ou moins naturel de l'histoire de l'esclavage. Les personnages de deuxième ordre ne sont pas très convainquant et l'on n'aimerais en savoir plus sur Emma et la disparition de sa fille mais la voix d'Emma hante et affirme le roman.
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Tres touchant!! J'ai adoré
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: caribbean
Beautiful, striking, intense, important.
Tip: don't read the back cover, there is a major spoiler about the ending.
Purple Iris
Themes: madness, slavery, History, motherhood, family ties.

I doubt I'd use it in the classroom, though. Much too confusing.
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Marie-Célie Agnant (born 1953, Port-au-Prince, Haiti) is a French-speaking Quebecer, who has lived in Canada since 1970.[1]

Agnant is a writer of poems, novels and novellas, and she has also published children's books. She is also a storyteller and occasionally appears with the Bread & Puppet Theater of Vermont. Her works have been translated into Spanish, English, Dutch, Italian and Korean.