Over Seas of Memory

Over Seas of Memory

A Novel

Michaël Ferrier
Translated by Martin Munro
Foreword by Patrick Chamoiseau

234 pages


June 2019


$19.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Based loosely on the author’s life, this novel recounts the narrator’s journey following the footsteps of his Mauritius-born grandfather, Maxime, who abruptly boarded a boat bound for Madagascar in 1922 and never returned. Michaël Ferrier tells a tale of discovery as well as the elusive, colorful story of Maxime’s life in Madagascar, which included a stint as an acrobat in a traveling circus and, later, as a diver and artist on marine expeditions. Maxime’s story is one of adventure but also romance. He falls in love with a refined young Pauline Nuñes, Ferrier’s grandmother, whose well-to-do family of Indian merchants owns a hotel famous for playing the latest music—including American jazz—and throwing popular dances and parties. Over Seas of Memory weaves these personal stories with the island’s history, including its period as a Vichy-governed territory at the center of what was termed “Project Madagascar,” the Nazi plan to relocate Europe’s Jewish population to the island.

As Ferrier interlaces his family’s intimate story with the larger story of colonialism’s lasting and complicated impact—including the racial and ethnic divisions it fomented—he engages with critical issues in contemporary France concerning national and cultural identity.

Author Bio

Michaël Ferrier is a professor of French at Chuo University in Tokyo, Japan, and director of the Research Group Figures de l’Etranger. He is an essayist and the award-winning author of several novels in French. Martin Munro is Winthrop-King professor of French and Francophone studies and director of the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University. Patrick Chamoiseau is an award-winning author from Martinique. Many of his books have been translated into English, including School Days (Nebraska, 1997) and Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows (Nebraska, 2003).


Praise for the original French edition:

“Remarkable. . . . Michaël Ferrier explodes all boundaries, all borders, geographical and mental. . . . This very topical book is essential reading.”—Muriel Mingaud, Le Populaire
“Resplendent.”—Bertrand Leclair, Le Monde
“This rich novel (the term does not do the work justice) lives up to its title [and is] driven by a conviction to record the reality of a world made from diversity.”—Valérie Marin la Meslée, Le Point
“What is the only thing that can fight against death? Memory. That’s it. Ferrier has written an adventure novel on memory, a singularly intelligent novel.”—Vincent Roy, Art Press

Table of Contents

A Man Leaving
France and Its Offshoots
The Red Circus
In Praise of the Acrobat
Boxing by the Waterside
Queer-Looking Specimen
Mixed-Race Montaigne
The Colonial Specter
Creole Jazz Band
Presences of the Plague
The Madagascar Project
The War of the Airwaves
Walkway of Lonely Death

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