The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging - Chapter 1 - Belonging to the Moment: Carl de Souza’s Les Jours Kaya
University of Reading, GB
Julia Waters is Professor of Contemporary Literature in French at the University of Reading, Great Britain. Her research interests include twentieth-century and contemporary French & Francophone literature; Francophone cultures of the Indian Ocean, especially Mauritius; women’s writing in French, especially Marguerite Duras and Ananda Devi; feminist & postcolonial theory. Her main publications include: The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging (Liverpool University Press, 2018); Duras and Indochina: Postcolonial Perspectives (SFPS Critical Studies in Postcolonial Literature and Culture, 2006); (ed.), ‘L’ici et l’ailleurs’: Postcolonial Literatures of the Francophone Indian Ocean. E-france: an Online Journal of French Studies, vol 2 (2008); and (with Adalgisa Giorgio, eds), Women's writing in Western Europe: Gender, Generation and Legacy. (Cambridge Scholars, 2007).
This chapter examines Carl de Souza’s fictional depiction of the 1999 Kaya riots in relation to Frantz Fanon’s theory of anti-colonial violence, as the novel attempts to give fictional form to both the destructive and creative dimensions of the violence. The chapter explores the kinds of collective belonging that might emerge in place of the divisive, ethnic identities that the violence sought to destroy. Offering no easy answers to the problem of belonging that the riots so violently raise, there emerges in Souza’s novel a strong but fleeting sense of ‘belonging to the moment’. Yet, Mauritius’s future is ultimately portrayed as uncertain and its post-independence project of nation-building unfinished. As the chapter argues, Les Jours Kaya warns of the dangers of squandering the unique opportunity for positive social change that the riots offer, and of failing to harness their cathartic and unifying, nation-building potential.