Slave Old Man

A Novel

The “heart-stopping” (The Millions), “richly layered” (Brooklyn Rail), “haunting, beautiful” (BuzzFeed) story of an escaped slave and the killer hound that pursues him

Slave Old Man is a cloudburst of a novel, swift and compressed—but every page pulses, blood-warm. . . . The prose is so electrifyingly synesthetic that, on more than one occasion, I found myself stopping to rub my eyes in disbelief.” —Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

Shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Patrick Chamoiseau’s Slave Old Man was published to accolades in hardcover in a brilliant translation by Linda Coverdale, winning the French-American Foundation Translation Prize and chosen as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018.

Now in paperback, Slave Old Man is a gripping, profoundly unsettling story of an elderly slave’s daring escape into the wild from a plantation in Martinique, with his master and a fearsome hound on his heels. We follow them into a lush rain forest where nature is beyond all human control: sinister, yet entrancing and even exhilarating, because the old man’s flight to freedom will transform them all in truly astonishing—even otherworldly—ways, as the overwhelming physical presence of the forest reshapes reality and time itself.

Chamoiseau’s exquisitely rendered new novel is an adventure for all time, one that fearlessly portrays the demonic cruelties of the slave trade and its human costs in vivid, sometimes hallucinatory prose. Offering a loving and mischievous tribute to the Creole culture of early nineteenth-century Martinique, this novel takes us on a unique and moving journey into the heart of Caribbean history.

Praise

“Chamoiseau writes in a wild medley of French and Creole, sliding from dialect to classical expression like a freeform jazz musician. Linda Coverdale’s translation, the first in English, is gloriously unshackled. . . . This [is a] beautiful book by a writer who’s as original as any I’ve read all year.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“Chamoiseau’s prose is astounding in its beauty . . . and he ups the stakes by making this novel a breathtaking thriller, as well.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

News and Reviews

Asymptote

Chamoiseau’s texts are linguistic interventions . . . at once literary feats and statements of cultural political protest. . . . [Slave Old Man] is poignant, timely, and radical. . . . Linda Coverdale does an impeccable, sensitive job.

The Brooklyn Rail

A richly layered, obsessive, lyrical novel.

Buzzfeed

Haunting, beautiful, and necessary.

Slave Old Man Reader's Guide

The New Press is pleased to share a Reading Group Guide for Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau.

Pages

Books by Patrick Chamoiseau

Creole Folktales

Patrick Chamoiseau