Leonara is a first in francophone Caribbean literature: neither fiction nor biography, this book by sociologist and Creole-culture advocate Dany Bebel-Gisler has elements of both novelistic and documentary style. It has been likened to the Latin-American testimonio genre (testimony novel). The real-life Leonara- model for and subject of this book- told Bebel-Gisler that "in this book made up of my words, it is my very self that is present. You have written the story just as I have told it"
In the course of her life, Leonara has witnessed, from her perspective as the mother of a large family, the passage of Guadeloupe from colony to departement of France; from the hard-scrabble subsistence agriculture of the rural poor to the subsudized consumer economy of France's overseas departements today. Along the way she offers witty and pungent observations on language, politics, sex, and religion.
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