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Soucouyant

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  988 ratings  ·  104 reviews
A “soucouyant” is an evil spirit in Caribbean lore, a reminder of past transgressions that refuse to diminish with age. In this beautifully told novel that crosses borders, cultures, and generations, a young man returns home to care for his aging mother, who suffers from dementia. In his efforts to help her and by turn make amends for their past estrangement from one anoth ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Arsenal Pulp Press
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
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Jaline
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
[Mother] was smiling at me, and I caught it. I caught her reading me all the way through. The person I’d become, despite all of her efforts. A boy so melancholy, melancholy despite the luxuries that she’d worked so hard for him to enjoy. A boy moping for lost things, for hurts never his own….

For me, this excerpt from the novel describes it so well. It is a melancholy story, sometimes stretching into tenderness and caring, yet with melancholy underlying it all.

The young man who narrates most
...more
James Murphy
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Soucouyant has a subtitle: A Novel of Forgetting. The thing is, it's more about remembering. And about the kinds of love carrying the tenderest and most caring freight. A soucouyant, the reader is told, is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore. In a novel turned on its head, it can also be an object of love. I liked this lovely little novel a lot. It's compassionate and loving, and though it's a first novel written by a very young man, it's full of the understanding and strength that swell to wis ...more
Bonnie
Nov 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very few flaws, (and others may disagree that there are any at all); beautifully written.
Fathima Cader
Jul 07, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a beautifully written book. I wouldn't be surprised if Chariandy writes poetry. I should look it up. He might have short stories published somewhere, too.

Thing is, I paused midway in this book to read Farzana Doctor's Stealing Nasreen , on which I thought I was going to write a paper. I didn't end up writing that paper, but reading Stealing Nasreen, though it's nowhere near as technically brilliant as Soucouyant, made me return to this novel with a certain amount of wariness.
Stealing
...more
Nicole
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So happy I read this book. It is just beautiful in so many ways.
Brooke
Aug 26, 2020 rated it liked it
"I watch the wind blowing ghosts into the drapes. I dream, close to waking, of the sound of footsteps in the air above me."

Soucouyant is told from the perspective of a young man, who returns home to care for his aging mother who has been living with dementia for years. It is a story about the immigrant experience in Canada, about racism, about family, and about forgetting. The writing is lovely, but I found the ending a bit information heavy? I would have liked if more of that information was sp
...more
Hina Zephyr
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an achingly raw and sad book. Chariandy has captured a certain beauty even in the stark poverty and racism that follows this broken family from its roots in the Caribbean island to the bleak Scarborough bluffs. Each character has to battle their own demons. The book is similar in certain ways to Still Alice, in that the central character gradually loses herself in waves of dementia. But there the similarities end. Because Adele not only has to deal with her mental illness, she's had to f ...more
Peachy
Comprised of folklore, tragedy, racism, willful determination and eventually, Alzheimer’s disease, Soucouyant is the haunting tale of one man’s journey back to his ailing mother, and what he learns about himself and his roots along the way. Set in the Scarborough Bluffs, a beautiful suburb of Toronto, as contrasted by the ramshackle slums of Trinidad during WWII, the descriptions are breathtaking and shocking. More than just a novel, Soucouyant reads like poetry, and is magical in its style.
Karen
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sad but interesting picture of immigrant family in Canada with the maternal figure declining due to early onset dementia - possibly inherited and possibly brought on by traumas of her childhood.
Short but powerful book - emotionally charged with sadness and some minor hilarity.
I look forward to reading another book by this author.
Arsenal
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Finalist, Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction
Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Winner, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (GOLD), Literary Fiction
Shortlisted for Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (BC Book Prizes)
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book
Shortlisted for City of Toronto Book Award
Shortlisted for the Amazon.ca/Books In Canada First Novel Award
Shortlisted for the ReLit Award, Best Novel
Shortliste
...more
Rob
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
(8/10) More than anything the appeal here is the language, a kind of sad poetry that captures the loss and strange redemption here better than any plotting could. Chariandy's prose is a joy to read, and it's hung on a decent story too, about trauma and forgetting and the question of how much responsibility one has to other people, especially one's family. If anything the problem with Soucouyant is that it seems too small and partial, like a jagged fragment of something bigger -- at the end I was ...more
Stephanie
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the first three quarters of the book for a few reasons: it takes place outside of Toronto, it illustrates an immigrant family's struggle with racism, and it is from the view of an adult child dealing with his mother's developing dementia. I thought that all of this was well done, however the ending of the book lost me: I thought that the author tried to put too much information into explaining the characters' backgrounds. Chariandy would have been better off to have revealed mor ...more
Emily Hays
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
A heartbreaking novel mostly about a son who's returned to his mother after she's suffered for years with dementia. While I can see why so many people love this novel, I wished the ending had been tied into the rest of the novel more seemlessly. It wasn't a mystery novel. In fact, I found myself forgetting there were things to be "unconvered" until they came up again.
I just think it could have been more powerful for me had the past trauma of the novel's characters not been left as a surprise, al
...more
Jean
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
really enjoyed this book - especially poignant to read while working on our show about dementia. blends of the heartbreak of losing a loved one to dementia, and the struggles of being an immigrant and "the other" in a new homeland. author has a new book coming out this year and looking forward to checking it out.
Jennifer Irvine
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janice
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Scarborough Bluffs (where I grew up) ... Soucouyant is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore ... his mother arrived in Canada in the early 60s, her childhood in Trinidad during World War II, suffering now from dementia in Ontario
Gilbert
Feb 20, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a book written by a prof at SFU. His parents were from Trinidad and lived in Ontario. I particlarly enjoyed reading this in Tobago. It provided a flavour and pespective I couldn't have had otherwise.
Kate
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school, thesis-reads
I really liked this novel. I like how it was very fragmented so that it was like he was simply telling the story of his mother and wasn't just writing a novel. The main characters were really relatable and the depiction of his mothers memory loss was quite well done.
George K. Ilsley
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada, fiction, re-read
Beautifully written. I've read it a couple of times. The prose is lyrical but tight. The author hits that fine line between social realism and magic realism, and everything comes together. Chariandy is a force to be reckoned with, as he has shown in his subsequent works.
Miriam
Excellent novel so far. A good follow up to Just Kids because Chiandry's voice is as tender and careful as Smith's.
Adam Hodgins
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
this was so good, so sad and beautiful. I read it on a flight to vancouver a couple of days ago, I'm already trying to convince people to read it
Andrea
Dec 07, 2008 added it
Very, very interesting. Mental illness, immigration, and identity. All rolled into a very readable story.
Sarah
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
an interesting study of strained relationships between generations - loved exploring the Beaches through these eyes
Sally
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mostly loved it but not sure the last 1/4 flows that well with the first 3/4. Beautiful writing.
Lori
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“I myself remember a bright day when Mother took me to a park near the beach. I would have been four or five. I remember Mother looking up into a cloudless sky, an infinite blue. I couldn’t read the expression in her face. After this everything seemed to change. What do you do with a person who one day empties her mind into the sky?” David Chariandy, in this short little book has penned a perfect piece of literature. Soucouyant tells the story of a young man returning home to care for his Mother ...more
Helen
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This short 200 page read was not a disappointment. David Chariandy writes poetically and sews pieces of a story together by contrasting how memories can tell you where you come from and also that you need to forget in order to move on. In this book the son of Trinidadian parents returns home two years after abandoning his widowed mother with early onset dementia. He cares for her, while recalling his and her own past. The story is set in the Scarborough Bluffs and explores themes of racism, WWII ...more
Ming
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please see my "highlights" for quotes of extraordinarily beautiful writing. I look forward to more of his writing.

I thought the story here was good but I couldn't help comparing it to his "Brother," which I liked much more. And I really don't believe in comparing an author's work against his/her other works.

The tone here is subdued; there's confusion because it's told from a child's memory and the mother is now grappling with unreliable memory.
Karen
Beautiful and wrenching, and very very sad. Dementia, confusion, and memory loss are awful enough, but here Chariandy coaxes them into a metaphor for the disruption, fragmentation, and loss of colonial and wartime occupation of Trinidad, and all the very real violence, anguish, displacement, and loss that issue from that—all the way to Scarborough, Ontario.
Friederike Knabe
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-lit
Thoughts to follow.
Nico
When I began reading this, I wasn’t expecting to be awed. Or be shocked or touched. But I was. This story takes place in a small part of Toronto, the Scarborough Bluffs – the place I call home. I could hear the waves, as I’ve heard so many times before, or Lake Ontario as they hit the rocks as the words went from my eyes, to my brain, and then straight to my heart. I could hear and feel everything so very clearly. I wish I had had the thought to make the 3 minute drive to the Lake’s edge and hea ...more
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David Chariandy is a Canadian writer and one of the co-founders of Commodore Books.

His debut novel Soucouyant was nominated for ten literary prizes and awards, including the 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (longlisted), the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize (longlisted), the 2007 Governor General's Award for Fiction (finalist), the 2007 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for literary ficti
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