The Tropics Bite BackCulinary Coups in Caribbean Literature

The Tropics Bite BackCulinary Coups in Caribbean Literature

Valérie Loichot

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816679836

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

Loichot traces the evolution of the Caribbean response to the colonial gaze, or rather, colonial mouth, from the late 19th century to the inception of the 21st. The ubiquitous presence of food and hunger in Caribbean folktales, political and historical treatises, fiction, and poetry signals the various traumas that have marked the Caribbean from the Middle Passage, to Slavery, Colonialism, WW2, and Departmentalization. The Francophone and Anglophone authors featured in The Tropics Bite Back bite back at the controlling images of the cannibal, the starved, the cunning cook, or the sexualized sugary octoroon, with the ultimate goal of constructing humanity through structural, literal, or allegorical acts of ingesting, cooking, and eating. Deviating from monographs that identify food solely as a cultural trope, the book privileges literary cannibalism, which Loichot reads in parallel with theories of Relation and Creolization, and which she distinguishes from cultural assimilation. Unlike other “Food Studies” monographs, the book does not focus primarily on cookbooks or “food novels,” but rather constructively explores “culinary coups” in unexpected places, such as Glissant’s essays. The book culminates with an investigation of the complexity of Suzanne Césaire’s practice of literary cannibalism, focusing on the Martinican writer’s critique of surrealist André Breton. The Tropics Bite Back features a transnational network of Caribbean authors writing from or about Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti, or the Caribbean Diasporas of the United States, Canada, and France, whose culinary acts resonate with American, Brazilian, Cuban, and Barbadian voices.