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Johary Ravaloson. Image from Winds from Elsewhere.

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: Naivo’s Beyond the Rice Fields. Malagasy literature will now be receiving the second such novel in Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island, forthcoming on 5 November 2019, from Amazon Crossing. The book, originally written in French, is translated by Allison M. Charette, who also translated Beyond the Rice Fields.

In an email to Brittle Paper, Amazon Publishing publicity lead Lucy Silag described it as “a short yet extraordinarily rich tale weaving Malagasy storytelling traditions with a contemporary young anti-hero, giving readers the chance to explore the complexities of eastern Africa in a fresh way.”

Johary Ravaloson was born in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, and currently lives in Normandy, France. In 2006, he founded the indie publishing press Dodo Vole Publishing with his wife, the contemporary artist Sophie Bazin, starting a new trend of in-country publishing in Madagascar and Reunion. His other novel is Vol a vif, which won the 2016 Prix du livre insulaire and the 2017 Prix Ivoire for Francophone African Literature. His most recent book, released in French, is Amour, patrie et soupe de crabs.

Here is a synopsis of Return to the Enchanted Island from Amazon:

In this exhilarating prize-winning novel—only the second to be published in English from Madagascar—a young man comes of age amidst the enchanted origin myths of his island country.

Named after the first man at the creation of the world in Malagasy mythology, Ietsy Razak was raised to perpetuate the glory of his namesake and expected to be as illuminated as his Great Ancestor. But in the chaos of modernity, his young life is marked only by restlessness, maddening insomnia, and an adolescent apathy.

When an unexpected tragedy ships him off to a boarding school in France, his trip to the big city is no hero’s journey. Ietsy loses himself in the immediate pleasures of body and mind. Weighed down by his privilege and the legacy of his name, Ietsy struggles to find a foothold.

Only a return to the “Enchanted Island,” as Madagascar is lovingly known, helps Ietsy stumble toward his destiny. This award-winning retelling of Madagascar’s origin story offers a distinctly twenty-first-century perspective on the country’s place in an ever-more-connected world.

Allison M. Charette translates literature from French into English. She has received an NEA Fellowship in literary translation and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, been selected for the Translation Lab residency at Art OMI, and been nominated for the Best of the Net. Her translation of Naivo’s Beyond the Rice Fields was published by Restless Books in 2017. She founded the Emerging Literary Translators’ Network in America, a networking and support group for early-career translators.

Follow this link to order Return to the Enchanted Island.

Best wishes to Johary Ravaloson, and to Allison M. Charette, from Brittle Paper.

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Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a Staff Writer at Brittle Paper. An alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop, his work has been published in McSweeneys, Clarion Review, Charles River Journal and elsewhere. He was longlisted for the Awele Creative Trust Award in 2017 and was a finalist for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award. In 2019, he was named by Electric Literature as 'One of the Most Promising New Voices of Nigerian Fiction' in a feature introduced by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. He is a regular contributor with the New England Review of Books and lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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