Following in the tradition of Richard Wright's Black Boy, Joseph Zobel's semi-autobiographical 1950 novel Black Shack Alley chronicles the coming-of-age of José, a young boy grappling with issues of power and identity in colonial Martinique. As José transitions from childhood to young adulthood and from rural plantations to urban Fort-de-France on a quest for upward mobility, he bears witness to and struggles against the various manifestations of white supremacy, both subtle and overt, that will alter the course of his life. His ally in this struggle is his grandmother, M'man Tine, who fights her own weariness to release at least one child from the plantation village, a dirt street lined with the shacks of sugarcane workers. Zobel's masterpiece, the basis for the award-winning film Sugar Cane Alley directed by Euzhan Palcy, is a powerful testament to twentieth-century life in Martinique, with a foreword by award-winning Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau.
Black Shack Alley
Penguin Classics 2020. New paperback; 256 pages