Beyond the Rice Fields
Beyond the Rice Fields
Translated from the French by Allison M. Charette
The first novel from Madagascar ever to be translated into English, Naivo’s magisterial Beyond the Rice Fields delves into the upheavals of the nation’s past as it confronted Christianity and modernity, through the twin narratives of a slave and his master’s daughter.
Paperback List Price: $19.99 • ISBN: 9781632061317 • Publication: 10/17/17 • 5.5” x 8.25” • 400 pages • Fiction—Historical / Africa • Territory: World English • eBook ISBN: 9781632061324
About the Book
Fara and her father’s slave, Tsito, have been close since her father bought the boy after his forest village was destroyed. Now in Sahasoa, amongst the cattle and rice fields, everything is new for Tsito, and Fara at last has a companion. But as Tsito looks forward to the bright promise of freedom and Fara, backward to a dark, long-denied family history, a rift opens between them just as British Christian missionaries and French industrialists arrive and violence erupts across the country. Love and innocence fall away, and Tsito and Fara’s world becomes enveloped by tyranny, superstition, and fear.
With captivating lyricism, propulsive urgency, and two unforgettable characters at the story’s core, Naivo unflinchingly delves into the brutal history of nineteenth-century Madagascar. Beyond the Rice Fields is a tour de force that has much to teach us about human bondage and the stories we tell to face—and hide from—ourselves, each other, our pasts, and our destinies.
“Naivo’s first novel, published in France, surprises and delights on multiple accounts. It’s a complete and total break with the forms and styles currently ‘in vogue’ among his Francophone contemporaries. He’s created a hybrid of Malagasy and French languages, of literary genres. Under the guise of a nineteenth-century historical epic, Naivo offers a subtle reflection on twisting power structures and the social structure of contemporary Madagascar.… The epic story of a country entering a new era and the suspense-filled stories of the heroes are more than enough to captivate a Western reader, unaware of this faraway place and its history (normally reduced to a few colonial clichés).… This love and adventure story doubles as a discreet but caustic challenge of the foundations of contemporary Malagasy society itself. A celebration of language and culture, and a needle-sharp questioning of the machinery of society: these are just two sides of the same affection for the Great Island. This novel is both easy and complex, seductive and provocative, sentimental and clear-sighted. It will be read and appreciated in the North as well as the South, just in different ways—each reader will let themselves be swept away into the world that Naivo has created. A journey through time, space, language, and the human heart—or, everything that we ask of a novel.”
—Dominique Ranaivoson, Africultures
“With French words drenched in Malagasy poetry, this passion-filled epic draws the reader into a troubled and moving world.”
“Naivo borrows from Malagasy language at will, using expressions and proverbs that enrich his novel. His translations rendering them into French intertwine nicely into turns of phrase that coax the French language into supple flexibility. The author lets himself play with the French language sometimes… and revives the Malagasy art of oratory.
“Historical fiction that’s also a love and adventure story, lush with poetry and Malagasy proverbs.”
About the Author
Naivoharisoa Patrick Ramamonjisoa, who goes by the pen name Naivo, has worked as a journalist in his home country of Madagascar and as a teacher in Paris. His first novel, Beyond the Rice Fields, was published in its French original version in March 2012 by Éditions Sépia in Paris. This work, which describes the violent cultural clash and mass killings that arose in the early nineteenth-century Madagascar in reaction to the arrival of British missionaries and the rise of Christianity, is the first Malagasy novel ever translated into English. Naivo is also the author of several short stories, including “Dahalo,” which received the RFI/ACCT prize in 1996, and “Iarivomandroso,” which was adapted for a theatrical production in Antananarivo, Madagascar. He recently released a short story collection entitled “Madagascar entre poivre et vanille,” which explores various topics pertaining to contemporary Madagascar including the socialist era, the recurrent political coups, the corruption of the judiciary system, and the monarchic and colonial resurgences.
About the Translator
Allison M. Charette translates literature from French into English. She received a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for Beyond the Rice Fields, the first novel from Madagascar to be translated into English. She founded the Emerging Literary Translators’ Network in America (ELTNA.org), a networking and support group for early-career translators. Allison has published two other book-length translations, in addition to short translated fiction that has appeared in Words Without Borders, The Other Stories, Tupelo Quarterly, InTranslation, the SAND Journal, and others. Find her online at charettetranslations.com.