New Book: Suzanne Dracius’ “Climb to the Sky”

Climb to the Sky (University of Virginia Press, 2012) is a collection of stories by Suzanne Dracius, translated by Jamie Davies. The book will hit the stands on November 5, 2012.

Description: 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.

Dominique Lancastre writes, “Between Paris and the Caribbean, America and Europe, Africa and mythical Martinique, Suzanne Dracius grows with her writing. Straddling French and Creole, in these nine stories, she reconnects with the tradition of storytelling, where we find the intermingling of humor, modernity, and a marvelous Caribbean. With Mt. Pelée emerging from the belly of the sea and modern-day machines—motorcycles, trains, airplanes, computers—Climb to the Sky interlaces tragic historical events with intense bursts of hope.”

Suzanne Dracius (Martinique, 1951) is a professor of classical literature (French, Latin, Greek). After completing her studies at Lycée Marie Curie Sceaux and the Sorbonne, she taught in Paris and the Université Antilles-Guyane, as well as in the United States (University of Georgia and Ohio University, as a visiting professor). According to Information Littéraire blog, Dracius defines herself with the Creole word “kalazaza,” which means “a person of mixed racial make-up (black and white) with dark skin and light hair.” In her writing, she has led the struggle against any kind of racial, gender or social discrimination. She is the author of the novel L’Autre qui danse (Seghers, 1989), the novella Rue Monte au ciel (Desnel, 2003), stories such as « De sueur, de sucre et de sang » (Le Serpent à plumes, 1992), the play Lumina Sophie dite Surprise (Desnel, 2005), and poetry collections such as Exquise déréliction métisse (Desnel, 2008). She has also coordinated anthologies such as Hurricane, cris d’Insulaires (Desnel, 2005).

For purchasing information, see

For more information, see and an interview of the author with Carole Edwards in

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