Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction General

Soucouyant

by (author) David Chariandy

Publisher
Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2007
Category
General
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781551522265
    Publish Date
    Jul 2007
    List Price
    $19.95

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 16
  • Grade: 11

Description

By the award-winning author of Brother
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
Shortlisted for One Book, One Vancouver
Featured on CBC's "Between the Covers"

A soucouyant is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore, and a symbol here of the distant and dimly remembered legacies that continue to haunt the Americas. This extraordinary first novel set in Ontario, in a house near the Scarborough Bluffs, focuses on a Canadian-born son who despairingly abandons his Caribbean-born mother suffering from dementia.

The son returns after two years to confront his mother but also a young woman who now mysteriously occupies the house. In his desire to atone for his past and live anew, he is compelled to imagine his mother's life before it all slips into darkness--her arrival in Canada during the early sixties, her childhood in Trinidad during World War II, and her lurking secret that each have tried to forget.

Luminously poetic, Soucouyant marks the arrival of a major new literary talent in Canada.

German-language rights sold to Suhrkamp
French-language rights sold to Editions Zoe
Albanian-language rights sold to Shkupi (Macedonia)
Film option sold to Ian Harnarine and Jon Malkiel

About the author

David Chariandy lives in Vancouver and teaches in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. His novel Soucouyant has received great attention, including a Governor General's Literary Award nomination for Fiction, a Gold Independent Publisher Award for Best Novel, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. His most recent novel, Brother, won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust of Canada Prize for Fiction.

David Chariandy's profile page

Awards

  • Long-listed, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • Short-listed, Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award
  • Short-listed, City of Toronto Book Award
  • Winner, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (GOLD)
  • Short-listed, Commonwealth Writers Prize (First Book)
  • Short-listed, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
  • Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction
  • Long-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Editorial Reviews

David Chariandy is a brilliant young writer whose novel, Soucouyant, is tender and beautiful, but also as tough and craggy and precipitous as the Scarborough Bluffs where it is set. Soucouyant is about the disintegration of a mother's life, witnessed and described by her son with a compassionate accuracy, a man in the drifting soul of a woman. With careful brushstrokes and symphonic imagination, the author reveals to us the crises of filial love, of multicultural society, of language itself. The resulting narrative is magnificent. -Austin Clarke

Soucouyant pulses with life and vigour, even as it breaks under the weight of age and sorrow. Chariandy writes with a rich clarity that never feels cluttered, an elliptical approach to both characterization and storytelling that feels utterly natural and unmannered. Rooting the novel in both the domestic and the fabulous, he avoids the pitfalls of each; in weaving the disparate strands together, he is able to explore the deep mysteries at the heart of families and individuals to find the truth at their core. It's a delicate balancing act, and Chariandy never falters. The result is a novel that's impossible to predict, and impossible to pin down. To read it is to be reminded of the power of writing, of storytelling, of lives laid bare, in all their secrets and mysteries, on the page. -National Post

This is an electrifying novel by an extremely gifted writer. Soucouyant is about personal history but it is also much more than that. It is about time and place and the individual's quest for a vantage point between the new world and the old. Soucouyant bridges geographic, cultural, and generational gaps, and it is 'told' with great beauty and sensitivity towards loss and pain that is extremely rare. The writing itself is of the highest order. This is a novel that will remain with readers for a long time. -Alistair MacLeod

Soucouyant moves fluidly between past and present. Chariandy's writing is filled with striking details, moments both humorous and poignant and solid narrative pacing.... The demons that come to life in this powerful story of remembrance will seem familiar if you've ever tried to make amends for past errors, or loved someone through the anguish of forgetting. -Vancouver Sun

David Chariandy fully inhabits his story, his authorial labours surefooted and invisible. His closing chapter reprises that authenticity, revealing childhood horrors that shock us to a final understanding. -The Globe & Mail

Not many books have re-read appeal, at least not to a critic. But after finishing David Chariandy's Soucouyant, I returned to the beginning and started all over again, finding renewed pleasure in each lyrical line.... Chariandy's heart-wrenching tale of a son trying to reconnect with a mother who has sunk deep into the mysterious nowhere land of Alzheimer's leaves a deep imprint upon the soul.... The texture of his prose is silken, his phrasing melodic. -Montreal Gazette

A haunting coming-of-age story. -Publishers Weekly

This elegant and accomplished book strikes me as Southern in its historical preoccupation with racism, violence, and dispossession, and the impact of these things on contemporary experience.... This is a very successful novel, partly due to an unerring consistency of tone, which is eerie and melancholic, but also due to Chariandy's tender portrayal of Adele, whose exuberant spirit, even in fragile, deepest madness, is never entirely extinguished. Chariandy is an observant, eloquent writer. -Toronto Star

Librarian Reviews

Soucouyant

Using the unique relationship between a Caribbean immigrant mother and her Canadian-born son, this novel explores the uselessness, destructiveness and at times clarifying power of memory. A son returns as a young adult to his childhood suburban Toronto home in a confused attempt to make amends for leaving his mother, who is in the advanced stages of dementia. The son resurrects pertinent family history to make sense of current situations. In the process, the differing reactions and adaptations to racist behaviors, shows how the effects of racism can take many forms. Themes of racism in late 20th century suburbia, workplace abuses, the vagaries of aging and the confusions of nuclear family obligations are presented.

Soucouyant was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award and long-listed for the Giller Prize.

Caution: Some explicit descriptions of sex, violence, abuse and mental illness. Some coarse language is included.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2008-2009.

Other titles by David Chariandy

Related lists