Climb to the Sky
Suzanne Dracius. Translated by Jamie Davis. Afterword by Edwin C. Hill Jr.
Climb to the Sky collects a novella and eight stories by one of the most celebrated and versatile French Caribbean writers, Suzanne Dracius. Set in the author’s native Martinique and spanning the twentieth century, these narratives display a powerful grasp of the individual set against an often violent history. The multi-generational novella "Her Destiny on Climb to the Sky Street" opens with the gripping account of a runaway slave’s survival of disease and abuse aboard a slave ship and concludes with his descendant, a young woman living in a post-abolition world whose life of abuse and torture by her employers nonetheless resembles that of a slave. In "Sweat, Sugar, and Blood," a woman held captive by her husband in their home must choose between safe ignorance and dangerous knowledge. Other stories, such as "Chlorophyllian Creation" and "Written in Lime Juice," convey the intimacy and directness of autobiographical essays.
Each of Dracius’s heroines achieves a transcendental experience through her own imagination and will, whether she is escaping natural catastrophe (such as the eruption of Mount Pelée), enduring jail time under interrogation by the national police, or coping with the ennui of life in a bourgeois home. Although the results of these historical, natural, or existential circumstances are unpredictable, what unites these women is deliverance.
CARAF: Caribbean and African Literature Translated from the French
Suzanne Dracius’s reputation and renown have grown steadily over the years. Hers is an important voice in French Caribbean literature, one that deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible. The combination of literary sophistication, historical accuracy, and feminist valorization makes this work a literary and cultural landmark.
Suzanne Dracius is the author of the novel L’autre qui danse and the play Lumina Sophie dite Surprise. Her first book of poetry, Exquise déréliction métisse, won the Prix Fètkann, and in 2010 she received the Prix de la Société des Poètes Français for her body of work. Jamie Davis is the author of Beautiful War: Uncommon Violence, Praxis, and Aesthetics in the Novels of Monique Wittig and the translator of other work by Suzanne Dracius. Edwin C. Hill Jr. is Assistant Professor of French at the University of Southern California.