Read Soucouyant by David Chariandy Online


A “soucouyant” is an evil spirit in Caribbean lore, a reminder of past transgressions that refuse to diminish with age. In this beautifully told novel that crosses borders, cultures, and generations, a young man returns home to care for his aging mother, who suffers from dementia. In his efforts to help her and by turn make amends for their past estrangement from one anothA “soucouyant” is an evil spirit in Caribbean lore, a reminder of past transgressions that refuse to diminish with age. In this beautifully told novel that crosses borders, cultures, and generations, a young man returns home to care for his aging mother, who suffers from dementia. In his efforts to help her and by turn make amends for their past estrangement from one another, he is compelled to re-imagine his mother’s stories for her before they slip completely into darkness. In delicate, heartbreaking tones, the names for everyday things fade while at the same time a beautiful, haunted life, stained by grief, is slowly revealed....

Title : Soucouyant
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781551522265
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 220 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Soucouyant Reviews

  • Bonnie
    2019-04-10 09:53

    Very few flaws, (and others may disagree that there are any at all); beautifully written.

  • Fathima Cader
    2019-04-06 17:28

    This is a beautifully written book. I wouldn't be surprised if Chariandy writes poetry. I should look it up. He might have short stories published somewhere, too.Thing is, I paused midway in this book to read Farzana Doctor's Stealing Nasreen, on which I thought I was going to write a paper. I didn't end up writing that paper, but reading Stealing Nasreen, though it's nowhere near as technically brilliant as Soucouyant, made me return to this novel with a certain amount of wariness. Stealing Nasreen is a much more straightfoward narrative about immigration and sexuality. It isn't as shiny as Soucouyant, and that's what's interesting. I'd come to almost expect as inevitable that any story about minoritised communities must necessarily involve narrative techniques like reverse chronologies, self-reflexivity, ambiguity, etc. They're in every other widely-read "ethnic" novel. That they're also in Soucouyant isn't, by any means, a flaw in the novel; it's just that the pervasiveness of these techniques -- which are useful, after all, because they reflect certain aspects of postcolonial and postmodern lives -- now strikes me as more problematic than it once did. Can we no longer a tell story front-to-back, beginning-to-end? Are we even allowed to? Or is that way of writing now purely the domain of "mainstream" novels? Has our resistance to falsely teleological narratives been so thoroughly co-opted by the international publishing industry that we've been forced, by our "niche" subject matter into niche writing styles -- to the point that we've even forgotten that how we write is not intrinsic to our subject matter. How we write is a choice we make, and it's a choice informed by how publishable our novels become.OK, that was theoretical tangent that said nothing about Soucouyant, and now I've run myself dry. In short, I liked the novel, and I'd re-read it for the poetry. Also, I just discovered Chariandy helped found Commodore Books, "the first and only black literary press in western Canada." Check

  • Nicole
    2019-04-12 10:49

    So happy I read this book. It is just beautiful in so many ways.

  • James Murphy
    2019-04-14 10:29

    Soucouyant has a subtitle: A Novel of Forgetting. The thing is, it's more about remembering. And about the kinds of love carrying the tenderest and most caring freight. A soucouyant, the reader is told, is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore. In a novel turned on its head, it can also be an object of love. I liked this lovely little novel a lot. It's compassionate and loving, and though it's a first novel written by a very young man, it's full of the understanding and strength that swell to wisdom in the reader's mind. Chariandy carefully and skillfully details character and the present as if adding dolce strokes of a bow bit by bit while leading up to the crescendos of memory making up the final chapter. Because it's a novel about a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease and the son who cares for the difficult reality of her everyday while nursing the shards of her recollection, it's a novel about forgetting. But it's more about how we can overcome the deteriorations of the mind to reach back into the most tender regions of our memories. That this edition by Arsenal Pulp Press is handsomely made, too, adds to the overall satisfaction of the read. It's a pleasure to sit with something so beautiful, both to hold in your lap and to hold in your mind.

  • Peachy
    2019-03-25 10:36

    Comprised of folklore, tragedy, racism, willful determination and eventually, Alzheimer’s disease, Soucouyant is the haunting tale of one man’s journey back to his ailing mother, and what he learns about himself and his roots along the way. Set in the Scarborough Bluffs, a beautiful suburb of Toronto, as contrasted by the ramshackle slums of Trinidad during WWII, the descriptions are breathtaking and shocking. More than just a novel, Soucouyant reads like poetry, and is magical in its style.

  • Emily
    2019-04-02 09:50

    A heartbreaking novel mostly about a son who's returned to his mother after she's suffered for years with dementia. While I can see why so many people love this novel, I wished the ending had been tied into the rest of the novel more seemlessly. It wasn't a mystery novel. In fact, I found myself forgetting there were things to be "unconvered" until they came up again.I just think it could have been more powerful for me had the past trauma of the novel's characters not been left as a surprise, almost plot twist, for the ending.

  • Hina Zephyr
    2019-04-07 12:27

    This is an achingly raw and sad book. Chariandy has captured a certain beauty even in the stark poverty and racism that follows this broken family from its roots in the Caribbean island to the bleak Scarborough bluffs. Each character has to battle their own demons. The book is similar in certain ways to Still Alice, in that the central character gradually loses herself in waves of dementia. But there the similarities end. Because Adele not only has to deal with her mental illness, she's had to fight racism and poverty all her life, which makes for a very unhappy existence.... and yet, there is something akin to great tenderness and love in her lucid interactions with her son. Soucouyant is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore, and like the name, the characters and their stories will haunt you long after you have turned the last page.

  • Arsenal
    2019-04-15 09:36

    Finalist, Governor General's Literary Award for FictionLonglisted for the Scotiabank Giller PrizeLonglisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary AwardWinner, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (GOLD), Literary FictionShortlisted for Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (BC Book Prizes)Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First BookShortlisted for City of Toronto Book AwardShortlisted for the In Canada First Novel AwardShortlisted for the ReLit Award, Best NovelShortlisted for One Book, One VancouverNow in its 3rd printing!

  • Stephanie
    2019-04-11 11:30

    I really enjoyed the first three quarters of the book for a few reasons: it takes place outside of Toronto, it illustrates an immigrant family's struggle with racism, and it is from the view of an adult child dealing with his mother's developing dementia. I thought that all of this was well done, however the ending of the book lost me: I thought that the author tried to put too much information into explaining the characters' backgrounds. Chariandy would have been better off to have revealed more of this vital information throughout the novel, and to not overwhelm the conclusion.

  • Rob
    2019-03-25 17:49

    (8/10) More than anything the appeal here is the language, a kind of sad poetry that captures the loss and strange redemption here better than any plotting could. Chariandy's prose is a joy to read, and it's hung on a decent story too, about trauma and forgetting and the question of how much responsibility one has to other people, especially one's family. If anything the problem with Soucouyant is that it seems too small and partial, like a jagged fragment of something bigger -- at the end I was thirsty for more. Chariandy is definitely an author to watch out for.

  • Jean
    2019-04-03 17:45

    really enjoyed this book - especially poignant to read while working on our show about dementia. blends of the heartbreak of losing a loved one to dementia, and the struggles of being an immigrant and "the other" in a new homeland. author has a new book coming out this year and looking forward to checking it out.

  • Janice
    2019-04-06 10:43

    Scarborough Bluffs (where I grew up) ... Soucouyant is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore ... his mother arrived in Canada in the early 60s, her childhood in Trinidad during World War II, suffering now from dementia in Ontario

  • Kate
    2019-04-19 14:28

    I really liked this novel. I like how it was very fragmented so that it was like he was simply telling the story of his mother and wasn't just writing a novel. The main characters were really relatable and the depiction of his mothers memory loss was quite well done.

  • Gilbert
    2019-04-03 09:53

    This is a book written by a prof at SFU. His parents were from Trinidad and lived in Ontario. I particlarly enjoyed reading this in Tobago. It provided a flavour and pespective I couldn't have had otherwise.

  • Adam Hodgins
    2019-04-03 09:41

    this was so good, so sad and beautiful. I read it on a flight to vancouver a couple of days ago, I'm already trying to convince people to read it

  • Miriam
    2019-03-27 14:49

    Excellent novel so far. A good follow up to Just Kids because Chiandry's voice is as tender and careful as Smith's.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-27 11:39

    Very, very interesting. Mental illness, immigration, and identity. All rolled into a very readable story.

  • Sally
    2019-04-19 10:38

    Mostly loved it but not sure the last 1/4 flows that well with the first 3/4. Beautiful writing.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-04 16:41

    an interesting study of strained relationships between generations - loved exploring the Beaches through these eyes

  • Emily
    2019-03-27 16:36

    When I began reading this, I wasn’t expecting to be awed. Or be shocked or touched. But I was. This story takes place in a small part of Toronto, the Scarborough Bluffs – the place I call home. I could hear the waves, as I’ve heard so many times before, or Lake Ontario as they hit the rocks as the words went from my eyes, to my brain, and then straight to my heart. I could hear and feel everything so very clearly. I wish I had had the thought to make the 3 minute drive to the Lake’s edge and hear it lap against the shore. Although the ambiance was set perfectly by the gorgeous prose of David Chariandy (a Canadian author, as you might imagine). This was a hard book to read. I went in without reading any reviews or blurbs (as I try to in my English courses, just so I have a clear and open mind filled with nothing but my own perspectives). I read about 45 pages before having to close it for the night and realized shortly after that I was minorly traumatized. This is the type of novel you have to kind of separate yourself from if you want to remain sane while reading (or to read any of it in public). It follows a black teenage boy in 1989 in Scarborough whose Mother, Adele, suffers from early-onset dementia. We learn in the opening pages that he ran away for 2 years, unable to cope with his Mother’s illness and life at home. As he narrates the book (remaining nameless throughout) he remembers his Mother’s history of early life, immigration from the Caribbean when she was a young woman, and her time living and adjusting to Canadian life. I’m not sure if it’s possible to finish this novel without experiencing an acute heartache, but if it is, I certainly didn’t manage it. If anything, it made me want to go hug my own Mother. As I read, I kept asking her if the level of Canadian racism around Adele’s immigration was accurate. It made me sick thinking that this disgusting discrimination happened in a country that’s supposed to be free and welcoming to everyone, no matter what colour, and no matter where you came from.One last thing before I close; I have to acknowledge the exceptional prose that Chariandy breathed into creation. I won’t babble for long, but it needed to be said that it was absolutely stunning. I just found out that David Chariandy will be coming to lecture for my class and do a book signing at U of T and I cannot be happier to get to thank him face to face for the eye-opening and heartbreaking story that is Soucouyant.

  • Aislyn
    2019-04-22 17:27

    3.5 StarsA short read that flew by quickly, and tackles a lot of different issues of trauma, forgetting, racism, and identity. I had to read this book for class and I enjoyed it, but it's not one of my favourites ever. I mean, I'll definitely remember the story, but I don't think I will ever feel compelled to read this book again (who knows, that could change).I appreciate Chariandy's story, and I think it's a great introduction to him as an author. His novel looks at aspects of Caribbean culture and what happens when one sees a soucouyant, and the effects it can have later on in life - plus the impacts of dementia on a person, and a family while also dealing with racism and other societal issues. I thought it was super interesting how the protagonist is never named, and we only receive the names of select characters in the story. Chariandy also did a great job of using the writing to represent the state of mind the protagonist spirals into and reflects his mother's mental illness. I think he did a top-notch job of what dementia, in general, can do to a person, and how they can't control what their mind is doing, or when they're lucid or not, etc. but I'm also not claiming to be an expert in that at all - I just had a close family member suffer from dementia so I've seen what it can do. Chariandy really channelled that realness into Adele, without her appearing "crazy" - instead, a woman suffering from dementia and its effects. His writing did always feel smooth and polished, even when the protagonist seemed to be disintegrating mentally, and I enjoyed the flow of his writing. Before reading, I wondered how could Chariandy write this book and keep it interesting when it sounded not-so-much? but his writing kept it all interesting, intriguing, and lured me into the story of Adele and her family.I definitely will check out his new novel Brother, and if you're looking for a unique read, this is for you. I just didn't connect hugely with this book but I learned a lot reading it, and I think that's what matters in this case. Considering it takes place in Scarborough, and I grew up somewhat near the GTA, it was eye-opening to see the history of that area told through this immigrant family in the late 20th century. Overall, a solid read and I do recommend that if you have an inkling of interest in this book to check it out because it has layers and layers to unravel and investigate, that will keep you thinking for a long time.

  • Peter B
    2019-04-12 12:39

    Wow! Wow! What a book. Picked it up at the library going through the ABC routine for Canadian authors and what a wonderful surprise. The central character comes home after leaving his mother when she was incapable of looking after herself because at 17 he was simply not prepared or able to cope with her strangeness. His father was dead and his older brother had passed away.Through the story we learn of his mother’s youth in Trinidad and the amazing stresses that were upon her before coming to Canada…her grandmother was a prostitute to the American army during the second world war and her mother was a witness to it. At one point soldiers threw gasoline on them and the daughter lit them both on fire.The son tries to cope but is unable to deal with the soucouyant—an old woman witch who places a spell on anyone who sees her.There is understanding and love and a million things that happen in this book.

  • Wendell Hennan
    2019-03-29 09:40

    Very dark, dealing with dementia, poverty, racial prejudice and unacceptance and lack of understanding of neighbours. It takes place in the Scarborough Bluffs, a part of Toronto that I was very fond of and where I found beauty, simplicity and peace. Other readers have gushed and given 5 star ratings but I found it repetitive and slow to move forward during the first third of the book, yet there is a fascination, perhaps an envy on my part for the main character who returns and remains to help care for his failing confused mother, something I should have done but could not bring myself to do. There is no denying that the book is unsettling and will remain with the reader for some time, not only for the enchanting mystique of the Caribbean lifestyle but for the many other layers and issues it contains.

  • Kevin ⛅
    2019-03-27 16:24

    So much packed into this wee novel. In fact, there is little "wee" about it - mythologies of past and present, near and far are woven throughout this memory-based book. Some hefty themes in Soucouyant: childhood, burden of care, racism, all boiled down and detailed through highly specific instances that unearth new understandings. I know that this was David Chariandy's first novel and look forward to reading Brother, a book that I am sure is securing him a place in the new Canadian canon.

  • Andrea Paterson
    2019-04-22 16:51

    Deeply moving, intensely and beautifully written. My favourite aspect was the ongoing investigation of language and our struggle to find appropriate words, our ability to forge new ones, and our strange capacity to understand even in the places where language is falling apart. While this is a book about dementia, the act of forgetting, re-imagining, and grasping at language proves not to be only the territory of the afflicted. It emerges as a place where many people struggle and the struggle is at the core of the relational issues between the book's characters. I was completely absorbed by the linguistic play, deterioration, and creativity. I will be reading more of Chariandy for sure!

  • Steven Buechler
    2019-04-03 11:51

    Chariandy has written an insightful bit of literature here. Readers glide into the thoughts of a son who returns after a two-year absence to his Caribbean-born mother suffering from dementia. Upon his arrival at his childhood home, he not only finds the easily-confused individual who is his mother but also a young woman who also occupies the house. As the son continues his stay at the home, he is forced to confront memories and hidden secrets of his mother and his family.

  • Amino
    2019-04-19 15:26

    Another class read. It was interesting enough but plateau'd way too close to the end and instead of having a strong conclusion felt like I was reading a last-minute history lesson. I zoomed right through it because I felt the narrative navigating the complexity of the mind and illness of the mind (dementia, in this case) that doesn't quite fall into illness completely or mental illness was really interesting. The narrative felt fragmented at times in a way that I felt was made to put us in the perspective of the narrator's mother and her own disorientation within the world.

  • Cassidy Menard
    2019-04-21 15:49

    Well-written and engaging. Kind of like an extended short story, but in the good way (i.e. it's not superfluous in the langugage and it manages to retain the preoccupation with memory and the isolated location common to the short story). This sounds cynical, but I only wish the book were packaged/marketed in a more appealing way because many will probably dismiss it for dry CanLit even though it's a very accomplished piece of writing.

  • Jane Mulkewich
    2019-04-04 11:38

    Wow - this is a book about pain and love, so beautifully written. The pain of racism experienced by immigrants from Trinidad to Canada; the pain of a young son whose mother is suffering from mental illness and whose family is disentegrating... the son leaves and then comes back to be there for his mother. This book will pull you in and not let you go.

  • Matthew
    2019-04-20 12:42

    Like a glass of hot lavender tea with a stranger.