Georges-Henri Léotin’s third novel, Bèlè li sid [Bèlè from the South] (2010, Editions Dézafi), privileges a forgotten music rendering tribute to southern Martinique and, in particular, to Anses d’Arlet, where the author explores his roots. It focuses on the southern part of the island as the locus of many important revolts and insurrections. With this usually sad melody [bèlè lisid is a “sweet and mournful” drumming and singing style typical of the south of Martinique] Léotin tells the story of Maria-Klara, an honest, hard-working woman that, witnessing tragedies at the turn of the century, opts for simplicity and quiet strength.
The book description reads: “Through bèlè lisid this land wants to remind us of how it does not forget its ancestors. This visit through memory occurs through multiple characters. As in the line from a bélé song, the main character drowns her child. [. . .] Is this drowning . . . an offering to a divinity that has disappeared from the southern landscape? Is it a real crime? It is [also] an exploration of the mysticism of the enigmatic Papa Simbi. Is the drought in the South brought about by having forgotten this deity?”
Georges-Henri Léotin teaches philosophy in Martinique. He is the author of two other novels in Creole—Mémwè late and Mango vèt—and a non-fiction book on Monchoachi.
For full review (in French and Creole), see http://www.montraykreyol.org/spip.php?article3794