11 October 2015

France: 'Exile According to Julia' ('L'Exil selon Julia') by Gisèle Pineau

Gisèle Pineau
Gisèle Pineau was born, and spent the first fourteen years of her life, in Paris. Her parents, originally from the island of Guadeloupe, were part of the massive transplantation of Antilleans to the métropole after World War II (Bumidom). Most had left their homeland hoping to improve their lives and their children’s prospects. Born French nationals, all theoretically enjoyed equal footing with the Parisian French. The color of their skin, however, meant a far different reality for Pineau’s family and their fellow émigrés.

They lived on the outskirts of the city and on the margins of French society and culture.  'Exile According to Julia' ('L'Exil selon Julia'), 1996, is Gisèle Pineau’s compelling portrait of alienation and exile, which was born of that experience.

 Exile According to Julia is a novel about longing to belong, longing for stability, longing for a sense of self, a home. This autobiographical work is Gisele Pineau’s third novel and a beautiful tribute to the grandmother who provided her with pieces of this precious belonging, and in return Pineau bears tender witness to this grand mother, “Man Ya” (a.k.a. Julia of the title), revealing her joyous secrets of life in the process.

The novel begins by recounting how the narrator’s own parents met and came to live in Paris in search of better opportunities for their children, far from their roots in Guadeloupe. Being a black child, the narrator feels overwhelmingly rejected by France and longs to live in a country where she is not merely a “bamboula,” or “negresse a plateau.” Something vital is missing from her life—not only is she suffering from alienation but she is also longing for the calming, substantive presence of cultural authenticity -  Review University of Minnisota

Gisèle Pineau was born, and spent the first fourteen years of her life, in Paris. Her parents, originally from the island of Guadeloupe, were part of the massive transplantation of Antilleans to the métropole after World War II. Most had left their homeland hoping to improve their lives and their children’s prospects. Born French nationals, all theoretically enjoyed equal footing with the Parisian French. The color of their skin, however, meant a far different reality for Pineau’s family and their fellow émigrés. They lived on the outskirts of the city and on the margins of French society and culture.

Who is Gisèle Pineau

Gisèle Pineau (born 1956) is a French novelist, writer and former psychiatric nurse. Although born in Paris, her origins are Guadeloupean and she has written several books on the difficulties and torments of her childhood as a black person growing up in Parisian society.

An interview with Gisèle Pineau.

Links
Gisèle Pineau on Facebook


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