Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord

Jo Fletcher Books, 2010, 280p.

 Redemption in Indigo cover

Lord is a Barbadian with a background in Science, English language and Sociology. Out of that she has produced a very readable, literarily aware, fable apparently based on a Senegalese folk-tale.

The narrative takes place in an unspecified country which feels more African than Caribbean. The main character, Paama, a marvellous cook, has left her gluttonous husband and gone back to her parents’ house. When he tries to win her back all sorts of misfortunes befall him due to his shortcomings. Mixed in with this tale is the gift to Paama from the spirits known as djombi of a Chaos Stick which has the effect of making improbable events less so, of enabling unlikely occurrences. There is one mention of quantum fluctuations but it is no more than a sop to a possible scientific explanation. For this is a universe where insects can talk and other-worldly beings like the djombi, twisters and baccou are unremarkable, or at least accepted. A certain djombi, deprived of some of his powers by the others, seeks out Paama to take the Stick and thereby regain them.

A title like Redemption in Indigo does rather suggest someone will undergo a transformation and this indeed takes place but to reveal of whom and why would be a spoiler.
Lord at times knowingly addresses the reader (the tale telling tradition embodied in the book implies a hearer could be the intended audience) or otherwise demonstrates she is in charge of the story she is telling thus lending the novel a literary air.

However you read it, Redemption in Indigo is a fine modern fable.

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