January 19, 2013

Take Me Away...to Experience the Creole and Cajun Cultures


Take Me Away showcases fiction, nonfiction, and children's books that take place in a specific country and/or within a specific culture.  Take a trip in books!  Look for where we are going next and places we've traveled at the bottom of the post.


This week we are visiting the cultures of the Creole and Cajun communities.  These two cultures are often mixed up or they are combined, especially now, but they were originally, in fact, two separate cultures.  Creole is a race of people whose ancestry includes Haitian, West African, West Indies, and European.  In contrast, a Cajun is a descendant of Acadians, or French settlers who originally lived in Nova Scotia until re-settling in Louisiana.  There the Acadians mixed with Spanish, Creoles, Germans, Native Americans, and Anglo-Americans.  This new ethnic group became known as Cajun.
(This information obtained from wiseGeek.)

Here are some pictures of famous Creole people:
Robert Ri'chard
Beyonce Knowles

Here are some pictures of famous Cajun people:
Shia LaBeouf
Ali Landry

Now here are some books about these cultures, organized into a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and children's books.

(P.S. There is a list of  the countries and cultures visited in past Take Me Away posts at the bottom of this post. Check them out and discover some good books to read and recommend some, too!)


FICTION SELECTIONS:


 Kate Chopin was one of the most individual and adventurous of nineteenth-century American writers, whose fiction explored new and often startling territory. When her most famous story, The Awakening, was first published in 1899, it stunned readers with its frank portrayal of the inner word of Edna Pontellier, and its daring criticisms of the limits of marriage and motherhood. The subtle beauty of her writing was contrasted with her unwomanly and sordid subject-matter: Edna's rejection of her domestic role, and her passionate quest for spiritual, sexual, and artistic freedom. From her first stories, Chopin was interested in independent characters who challenged convention. This selection, freshly edited from the first printing of each text, enables readers to follow her unfolding career as she experimented with a broad range of writing, from tales for children to decadent fin-de siecle sketches. The Awakening is set alongside thirty-two short stories, illustrating the spectrum of the fiction from her first published stories to her 1898 secret masterpiece, "The Storm."




From the author of the popular Million Dollar Mysteries and Smart Chick Mysteries comes a new stand-alone novel full of hidden staircases, buried secrets, and the promise of hope found in knowing God.
Miranda Miller wasn't looking for the news the day the letter came. But, trying to survive in troubled circumstances, she welcomes the chance to change her location for a period of time. The letter informs her that her grandparents' estate is finally about to become hers. She immediately heads down to Louisiana and the old house by the bayou. There Miranda finds secrets that lead to life-changing revelations.
This suspenseful story reminiscent of old Gothic tales has a complex mystery and a vivid sense of the Deep South. It shows how God can take the darkest circumstances and use them to light a bright path leading to the future. 


After centuries of solitude the stars are finally aligned just right. The handsome Deveraux brothers of Louisiana are going to meet their match this Hurricane Season.  Sebastian Deveraux is the Alpha of his pack and like all the Deveraux men, he's sexy as pure sin. He's waited for decades for just the right woman. For his mate. And ten years ago he'd been sure he'd found her in Amanda St. James. But she'd run from him.  Now she's back. He'll do anything to keep her. Even if it means chaining her to his bed.  



In this unusual collection of stories and fables, Goncourt prize-winner Patrick Chamoiseau re-creates in truly magical language the stories he heard as a child in Martinique. 

Book one of The Creoles Series, captivating novels from bestselling authors Gilbert and Lynn Morris, introduces Chantel Fontaine. Readers follow Chantel through the streets and swamps of Louisiana as she falls in love, faces the loss of both her parents, and searches for the baby sister she thought was lost forever.

The culture of the citizens of nineteenth-century New Orleans was as varied and intriguing as their complexions-French, Spanish, African, and American. As the layers of these cultures intertwine, a rich, entertaining story of love and faith emerges. It is the early 1800s, and Chantel Fountaine, has finished her education at the Ursuline Convent. But the trials and tragedies that preceded her graduation have put her Christian beliefs to the test.  The authors' unique perspective and the distinctive cultural setting make this novel come alive in the minds and hearts of readers. 



Jass (Valentin St. Cyr Mysteries) by David Fulmer
In the rowdy red-light district of Storyville, four players of the new music they call "jass" have turned up dead. When Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr begins to investigate, he discovers that every one of the victims once played in the same band, and the only one left alive has gone into hiding.  As he digs deeper, Valentin becomes convinced that a shadowy woman is the key to the mystery. His efforts to find her touch nerves, and soon Tom Anderson, known as the "King of Storyville," police lieutenant J. Picot, and even the mayor of New Orleans want him off the case. It's all the proof Valentin needs that there is something even larger and darker at the heart of this sordid business. Seductively told, expertly plotted, and terrifically concluded, Jass is the perfect encore to Fulmer's first novel in the Valentin St. Cyr series. 


"I noticed countless eyes following me. They belonged to shop-keeps closing up for the night, the homeless watching me from their makeshift beds, call girls pretending to wait for their next tricks on the corners, but all the while, wary of my every move. I didn’t belong here and they knew it. I could feel Les Foncés all around me, too, watching me from behind the tombs of the cemeteries, waiting for me around the corners of St. Louis Cathedral. With each breeze that floated off the Mississippi, I could feel their breath on my neck." 

The city of New Orleans beckons Leigh Benoit into its mysterious arms in this sequel to the popular Dark Bayou. She continues with her mission to learn the art of the Traiteur while ancient beings threaten to tip the balance to the dark side. With the clock ticking, it’s a race to find a cursed antique during Mardi Gras—a celebration that is about to become the Dark Carnival.



A richly textured, deeply atmospheric, and engaging novel set in a small Louisiana town in the 1950s, "The Cajuns" tells a captivating tale of love, life, death, and intrigue in a wonderfully bizarre yet corrupt culture. 

Bobby Boudreaux is the sheriff of Richelieu, where the only laws people respect are those that dictate how much pepper goes into the stew and, of course, the edicts of the Catholic Church. It was not a job Bobby wanted -- in fact, once out of school, his dream had been to escape into the larger world as fast as he possibly could. But life -- and a strong-willed father -- got in the way.  On most days being parish sheriff is not that demanding. Yes, laws get broken, but no one else seems to mind, so why should he? Thus, when Ti Boy Brouliette, an altar boy and an all-around good kid, dies in a mysterious gun accident, Bobby's only official action is to join the townsfolk who congregate at the home of the family, offering comfort to the grieving parents. What he doesn't realize, though, is that his life -- and that of everyone in Richelieu -- is about to change forever.

Among those gathered at Ti Boy's home is Ruth Ann Daigle, a beautifully sexy and worldly young woman who has returned to her hometown to help out her ailing father, who runs the local newspaper. Ruth Ann intimates to Bobby that she is not convinced that Ti Boy's death was an accident and, as a reporter for the paper, she intends to investigate. Bobby, annoyed by the suggestion that he's not doing his job, is afraid that Ruth Ann may be right. He also fears that Ruth Ann's arrival in Richelieu marks the end of a way of life he has come to depend on -- for not only does she threaten to challenge tradition, she has also awakened in him a sexual need that had grown dormant over the years, and soon his marriage is threatened as well.
Against this rich and vivid background, populated by a cast of colorful characters, Gus Weill has crafted a fascinating and compelling tale of a distinctive way of life threatened by scandal and of a unique culture on the brink of dramatic change. 



NONFICTION SELECTIONS:


The Cajun coast of Louisiana is home to a way of life as unique, complex, and beautiful as the terrain itself.  As award-winning travel writer Mike Tidwell journeys through the bayou, he introduces us to the food and the language, the shrimp fisherman, the Houma Indians, and the rich cultural history that makes it unlike any other place in the world. But seeing the skeletons of oak trees killed by the salinity of the groundwater, and whole cemeteries sinking into swampland and out of sight, Tidwell also explains why each introduction may be a farewell—as the storied Louisiana coast steadily erodes into the Gulf of Mexico.  Part travelogue, part environmental exposé, Bayou Farewell is the richly evocative chronicle of the author's travels through a world that is vanishing before our eyes. 



One Drop: My Father's Hidden Life--A Story of Race and Family Secrets by Bliss Broyard
Two months before he died of cancer, renowned literary critic Anatole Broyard called his grown son and daughter to his side, intending to reveal a secret he had kept all their lives and most of his own: he was black. But even as he lay dying, the truth was too difficult for him to share, and it was his wife who told Bliss that her WASPy, privileged Connecticut childhood had come at a price. Ever since his own parents, New Orleans Creoles, had moved to Brooklyn and began to "pass" in order to get work, Anatole had learned to conceal his racial identity. As he grew older and entered the ranks of the New York literary elite, he maintained the façade. Now his daughter Bliss tries to make sense of his choices and the impact of this revelation on her own life. She searches out the family she never knew in New York and New Orleans, and considers the profound consequences of racial identity. With unsparing candor and nuanced insight, Broyard chronicles her evolution from sheltered WASP to a woman of mixed race ancestry. 



Chef Folse's seventh cookbook is the authoritative collection on Louisiana's culture and cuisine. The book features more than 850 full-color pages, dynamic historical Louisiana photographs and more than 700 recipes. You will not only find step-by-step directions to preparing everything from a roux to a cochon de lait, but you will also learn about the history behind these recipes. Cajun and Creole cuisine was influenced by seven nations that settled Louisiana, from the Native Americans to the Italian immigrants of the 1800s. Learn about the significant contributions each culture made-okra seeds carried here by African slaves, classic French recipes recalled by the Creoles, the sausage-making skills of the Germans and more. Relive the adventure and romance that shaped Louisiana, and recreate the recipes enjoyed in Cajun cabins, plantation kitchens and New Orleans restaurants. Chef Folse has hand picked the recipes for each chapter to ensure the very best of seafood, game, meat, poultry, vegetables, salads, appetizers, drinks and desserts are represented. From the traditional to the truly unique, you will develop a new understanding and love of Cajun and Creole cuisine. 



 Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans
by Marcelle Bienvenu and Judy Walker
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, thousands of people lost their keepsakes and family treasures forever. As residents started to rebuild their lives, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans became a post-hurricane swapping place for old recipes that were washed away in the storm. The newspaper has compiled 250 of these delicious, authentic recipes along with the stories about how they came to be and who created them. Cooking Up a Storm includes the very best of classic and contemporary New Orleans cuisine, from seafood and meat to desserts and cocktails. But it also tells the story, recipe by recipe, of one of the great food cities in the world, and the determination of its citizens to preserve and safeguard their culinary legacy. 



Poor Man's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
These days, much is labeled Cajun that is not, and the popularity of the unique culture's food, songs, and dance has been a mixed blessing. Poor Man's Provence helps define what's what through lively characters and stories. The book is both a personal odyssey and good reporting, a travelogue and a memoir, funny and frank. 



CHILDREN'S BOOKS:


Arielle is given a little coconut plant as a present. She plants the tree, watches it grow, bloom flowers and finally produces coconuts. A hurricane does major damage to many of the neighborhood plants including uprooting the coconut tree. The cycle of life goes on when two small coconuts are found and are planted, giving rise to two new plants. 



Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell
Big Bad Gator Claude will do anything to have a taste of Petite Rouge...even if it means putting on a duck bill, flippers, and frilly underwear. He presents no match for the spunky heroine and her quick-thinking cat TeJean, though, as they use some strong Cajun hot sauce to teach Claude a lesson he will never forget!The combination of hilarious rhyme and exaggerated art creates a highly original retelling of the classic fairy tale. A pronunciation guide/glossary accompanies a tempting dialect that begs to be read aloud or acted out again and again. This is Little Red Riding Hood as she's never been seen before: Cajun and ducky. 



Winds of L'Acadie by Lois Donovan (Ages 10+)
When sixteen-year-old Sarah from Toronto learns that she is to spend the summer with her grandparents in Nova Scotia, she is convinced that it will be the most tedious summer ever. She gets off to a rough start when she meets Luke, the nephew of her grandmother’s friend, and one unfortunate event leads to another. Just when she thinks her summer cannot get much worse, she finds herself transported to Acadia in 1755. Here she meets Anne and learns much about the Acadian culture and history and the Acadians’ relations with the Mi’kmac people. She also experiences the warmth she has always wanted of a closely knit family. When Sarah realizes that the peace-loving Acadians are about to be torn from their homes and banished to distant shores, she is desperate to find a way to help them. Forced to abandon her pampered, stylish lifestyle, Sarah uncovers a strength and determination she did not know she possessed. Although Sarah has to come to terms with the fact that "you can’t change history," she is willing to risk her life to do everything in her power to help her Acadian family, and finds a surprising ally in Luke. Winds of L’Acadie, a historical novel for readers ten and up, reveals a painful part of Canadian history through the relationship of two young women from different centuries. 



This is, of course, just a sampling of books on Creole and Cajun life for you to read. Do you want to recommend/share books that are about Cajun or Creole life? Or do you want to share other thoughts?  Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back for our next trip in books! :)

Here is what is coming up next:

The African country of Nigeria
The European country of Scotland



Where we've been so far in our literary travels so far:



Australia, Pacific Islands
New Zealand
Fiji

4 comments:

  1. I had no idea Kate Chopin was Creole. Nora Roberts wrote a novel where the main character was Creole--Bayou-something.

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  2. Chopin is part French, but did not have Creole heritage. The Awakening was set in New Orleans and the Grand Isle. There are characters in the book that speak Creole.

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  3. Cooking up a Storm sounds marvelous, Becca! I really enjoy your bookish travel across the globe ;)

    ReplyDelete

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