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Gisèle Pineau

Gisèle Pineau was born in Paris in 1956. Although she began her education in literature at the University of Paris at Nanterre, she eventually worked as a psychiatric nurse after finishing her studies in 1979 and following her family back to Guadeloupe. She found herself living in Paris once again after 2000.

Pineau has written several books on the difficulties of growing up as a black person in France. In particular, she focuses on racism and the effects it can have on a young girl trying to discover her own cultural identity. Her book L'Exil Selon Julia highlights this, as she relies on the memories and experiences of her aged grandmother to help her learn about her society's traditions and her own cultural background.

With her novel La Grande dérive des esprits (1994), Pineau became the first woman to win the Carbet de la Caraïbe Prize, while also winning the Grand Prix des Lectrices from ELLE magazine. Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Gisèle Pineau is also a jury member of the Prix Tropique and the Prix du Livre insulaire d'Ouessant. She received the Prix des Hémisphères-Chantal Lapicque in 2002 for her novel Chair Piment.

Selected Bibliography

- L'Espérance-Macadam, 1995 (Prix RFO)
- L'Exil selon Julia, 1996 (Prix Terre de France and Prix Rotary)
- L'Âme prêtée aux oiseaux, 1998; A Taste of Eternity, 2014
- Caraïbes sur Seine, 1999 (Prix roman Jeunesse Maurice)
- Fleur de barbarie, 2007
- Nouvelles de Guadeloupe, with Fortuné Chalumeau, Simone Schwarz-Bart, and Ernest Pépin, 2009
- Folie, aller simple : Journée ordinaire d'une infirmière, 2010 (Prix Carbet des lycéens)



(Texas Tech University Press, 2014, Translated by C. Dickson)

When Sybille arrives in Paris from Guadeloupe with her infant son, she encounters the extravagant and marvelous Lila. Sybille is young and black with her life still ahead of her; an ex-actress, Lila is white and seventy years old. Despite their differences, the women become inseparable.

Haunted by memories, Lila confides in Sybille and, among other things, relates the endless cycle of lovers in her life. Her most cherished memories are of Henry, a black man from the British Caribbean whom she met during the Liberation Day celebrations in Paris. Gradually, Sybille and Lila discover that the West Indies and the charm of Guadeloupe create a deep and common bond between them.

The narrative leaps from one side of the Atlantic to the other, playing black against white, past against present, rural Caribbean culture against the urban life of Paris and New York. Sybille’s memories of her own tragic childhood form a counterpoint to tales of Henry growing up on the island of St. John. The stories contain mysterious and magical elements revolving around one central theme: how fate works to draw lovers apart.

Despite repeated defeats, love still survives. In tales and in legends, mocking all obstacles, it circumvents the game of destiny and the tragic vanity of mankind.

Proposed lectures

Le sens de l'écriture de Gisèle Pineau dans le contexte post-colonial français

Les femmes inspirantes de la Guadeloupe

Tour Program

Miami Book Fair

Program to be determined