Reviews

Soucouyant

Patty Osborne

In Soucouyant by David Chariandy (Arsenal Pulp Press), a young man whose mother suffers from early-onset dementia pieces together what really happened back home in the Caribbean when she encountered a soucouyant, or evil spirit. The mother’s compelling story begins in a village that is changed forever when it becomes a playground for American soldiers, then moves to Canada in the 195s, where a dark skin provokes disgust, and—in upper middle-class Scarborough—a dark skin combined with mental illness is the perfect “other.” Because the son (who is also the narrator) is a self-absorbed, unemotional character who spends too much time doing a bad job of taking care of his mother, the narrative starts out slowly and the liveliest writing is crammed into the last chapters. Even so, the story is strong enough to stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

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