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As has been the case throughout much of its history, Haiti in the 1790s was racked by violence, the result of an intricate and sometimes brutal system of racial and social classification exacerbated by the upheavals of the French Revolution. Thus, Haiti provides an ideal setting for Bell (Save Me Joe Louis, LJ 5/1/93) to explore his interest in the motivations that all too often propel us to give vent to our baser instincts. The story centers on the bloody beginnings of the rebellion from which Toussaint L'Ouverture, a seemingly docile slave, eventually emerged as the self-proclaimed governor general of the island. Bell has crafted a somewhat complex and violent tale, it opens with a woman being crucified for killing her baby so he would not have to live the life of a slave. Not for the faint-hearted, this work offers a fascinating glimpse into a little-known episode of hemispheric history. One can be glad for the chronology and the glossary Bell includes. Most appropriate for public libraries and academic libraries where Bell's work is popular. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/95.], David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Madison Smartt Bell was born and raised in Tennessee; he studied at Princeton University and Hollins College. He has taught in a variety of capacities, including the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, the University of Southern Maine, Goucher College, and as a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Much of his writing, which reflects a concern with race relations, has been critically acclaimed. <p> Bell was awarded the 1989 Lillian Smith Award for Soldier's Joy. His 1996 historical novel All Soul's Rising was nominated for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. All Soul's Rising, which depicts the slave uprising in Haiti in the late eighteenth century, also led to his selection to the Granta's list of Best Young American Novelists. <p> His books include The Washington Square Ensemble (1983), Waiting for the End of the World (1985), Straight Cut (1986), The Year of Silence (1987), Zero dB (1987), Soldier's Joy (1989), Barking Man (1990), Doctor Sleep (1991), Save Me, Joe Lewis (1993), and All Soul's Rising (1996). His short stories have been frequently anthologized, including selection for the annual Best American Short Stories for 1984, 1987, 1989, and 1990. <p> Bell teaches at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. <p> (Bowker Author Biography) Madison Smartt Bell is the author of eleven previous works of fiction, including All Souls' Rising, which was a National Book Award finalist; Save Me, Joe Louis; Dr. Sleep; Soldier's Joy; and Ten Indians. <p> He lives in Baltimore, Maryland. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)