The Dancing Other
The Dancing Other takes readers to France and Martinique to reveal the struggles of people who belong both places, but never quite feel at home in either. Suzanne Dracius tells the story of Rehvana, a woman who feels she is too black to fit in when living in mainland France, yet at the same time not dark-skinned enough to feel truly accepted in the Caribbean. Her sense of dislocation manifests itself at first in a turn to a mythical idea of Mother Africa; later, she moves to Martinique with a new boyfriend and thinks she may have finally found her place—but instead she is soon pregnant, isolated and lonely. Soon her only reliable companion is her neighbor, Ma Cidalise, who regales her in Creole with supernatural tales of wizards. Rehvana, meanwhile, watches her dream of belonging fade, as she continues to refuse to accept her multicultural heritage.
Read Nancy Naomi Carlson speak about her experience of translating The Dancing Other.
‘Dracius has fashioned a brilliant metaphor about dominance in many guises . . . . Can you belong in two places? Writers such as Edwidge Danticat and Achy Obejas have also wondered after leaving islands—Haiti and Cuba. How do you know where you fit? Suzanne Dracius created no middle space between Martinique and France for Rehvana. The novel closes in a powerful way. I cried. Originally published thirty years ago, The Dancing Other is possibly even more relevant today.’—Lanie Tankard, World Literature Today. Read the full review here.
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