On a successful tour, Michael Roch, 35, introduced himself to Etonnants Voyageurs this weekend, before returning to the heights of Fort-de-France where he had lived for six years, after childhood and studies in mainland France. His new novel Te Mawon (Terre Maroon) depicts, around 2070, a Caribbean megalopolis equipped with the latest technology, a welcome door for migrants from around the world, an explosive social stack, where diversity is languages and voices skilled working in the Caribbean author provides. with a diverse and transcultural realism. Released met the Martinican writer in Epinal, during the Imaginales festival, which he loves this year.
What inspired your megalopolis called Lanvil?
It is a mixture of three sources of inspiration. First of all from an imaginary cyberpunk corpus that comes from cinema, music video, literature, where the characters thrive in the hearts of wide cities. Then, this megalopolis that connects all the islands from Cuba to Venezuela, illustrates this desire of the Caribbean population for better circulation from island to island. Finally, in Texas, Patrick Chamoiseau called Fort de France, l’En-ville rather than Foyal, which he first thought, his little name in Martinique. The City is a concept by academic Dominique Aurélia, who describes the way in which residents of neighboring towns come to gather Foyal to make the City. The Lanvil in my novel an extension of it in the sense of a megalopolis that has become the center of attention around the world.
Ultra technology holds the shoulders of the dream of a lost world, the Tout-Monde.
I borrowed the concept of Tout-Monde from Edouard Glissant. Pat searches for the ancestral land that he thinks is hidden under Lanvil, forgetting that All the World is this vision of relationship that Edouard Glissant brings. This focuses on the problem of passing thinking from the oldest to the youngest. Over time, things disappear if they are not done again, repeated.
Is it important to preserve the past?
Transmission is very poor in today’s West Indian society. The younger generation of activists felt they had to start from the left, while the work became available. And so there is a real gap between generations and this is the observation I made in this novel. What arose was a feeling of discomfort, a feeling of abandonment that could easily turn into anger.
Why did you choose a polyphonic novel?
Because I love the language and the richness of it as a result of all these variations. In my previous novels, there was only one character whose voice I worked with as I perceived the character. on Me, Peter Pan (Le Peuple de Mü, 2017), we have something relatively useless and at the same time relatively fair. on the yellow book (Mü, 2020), the more romantic pirate expresses himself in a pure French. Here, to introduce the diversity of this territory extended horizontally above the arch of the Caribbean, but also erected towers with a classification of social strata, and of the characters that change it that are different classes, they must be made different in speaking. I really like to find intonations, songs, rhythms that match these variations and incorporate them. It would have been a shame to choose a unique style.
Have you thought about the way Alain Damasio writes?
Damasio was very inspired by this multi-focality of the text. It is good to read each other between the authors to compare and more with what we may consider strong and wrong with others. Other writers have also attracted me, such as Christophe Siébert for example, for the viscerality of his texts, the Martiniquan Alfred Alexandre because of his unique descriptions of the city and his phrase.
Do you speak Creole?
I’m still studying and I still have awkward turns. A remarkable Creole speaker, Kofi Jicho, who works on Instagram and does all the work to save Creole, re-read me. on Te Mawon, Martinican, Guadeloupean and Haitian Creoles mix. There are also neologisms that come from Pat’s mind that don’t. There was also Creole invented to teach technology to that world.
The reader falls into the bathroom from the first pages …
It’s the magic of literature, to be carried into a universe and agree to allow yourself to get involved in something that bothers us. Mentioned by Chamoiseau “tremors”, this excitement that seizes us and makes us stray from our reality.
How do you do Afrofuturism?
I work on futuristic stories that can be described as Afrocentric, because they have black main characters, an entire section of society that is explored very little in so-called traditional science fiction. In Afro-ethnic societies, there is a real need for characters to be identified naturally.
Are there Afro-descendant science fiction writers?
There is for example Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison using magico-religious in her novels, Tade Thompson, Rivers Solomon… Very few of them, while science fiction of white men, can quote a spades.
How do you think SF will redefine itself?
In a science fiction relationship. It is a reflection shared by many readers that Western SF has fallen to a dystopian dead end and is struggling to change itself. And so, we have to look at the Western sides, which is exactly where new voices have emerged: into Asian science fiction, taken by Liu Cixin for example (the problem of three bodies emphasis wandering land, Actes Sud “Exofictions”), into black American, African and soon Caribbean science fiction. Médine, a rapper I really like, was picked up by Youssoupha, said “To love oneself is not to hate others”. Afrofuturism is not hatred of another, it is self-love, to pass on something of oneself to others like us and find ourselves in a habit that has forgotten us. Maybe that’s why my science fiction is more social, more focused on the individual.
Michael Roche, Te MawonLa Volte, 214 pp., € 18 (ebook: € 9.99).