A hazy, riotous novel from the Mauritian writer Carl de Souza and award-winning translator Jeffrey Zuckerman, Kaya Days reimagines the 1999 island uprising as an explosive journey to the end of the night animated by huge personalities, revolutionary violence, and the possibility of another world.
“This isn’t a night for theater. All the drama will be outside.”
In 1999, the Mauritian musician Joseph Réginald Topize, better known as Kaya, was arrested for smoking weed while performing at a concert. Following his death in police custody just days later, the island nation surged with violence in a long-overdue demand for justice from the colonized peoples of the East African island nation.
In Kaya Days, the spirit of the island and its many people—Creole, Indian, French, British—is distilled into a young woman’s daylong search through the uproar for her younger brother, who has gone missing. Amid burning cars and buildings, opportunists and revolutionaries, Santee rises into another world—a furious, brilliant one. An exhilarating journey from a small Hindu village to the big city, and from innocence into womanhood, Carl de Souza’s surreal English-language debut, artfully translated from French by Jeffrey Zuckerman, is an explosion of politics and poetry, a humid dream-world of revolutionary fervor where seemingly anything—everything—is possible, if only in this night.
“Kaya Days strives to recreate not so much a reality as a truth… [Carl de Souza’s] fluid yet dense prose conveys, with flecks of poetry, an extraordinary journey of the soul set, over the course of Kaya Days, against a backdrop of upheaval. His characters live through these events and remain themselves, even as they endure the aftershocks of riotous violence. His novel, which has to be read again and again to fully comprehend its scope, is a rock thrown into seemingly calm waters that will make waves for a long time after.”—Le Soir (Belgium)
“Even more than [Mauritius’s] ethnic tensions, which he delineates meticulously, Carl de Souza trains his gaze on the humanity of these beings abandoned by all and guides us deep into a world with no limits left.” —L’Express (Mauritius)
“Through the lens of femininity and childhood, the story delves in an unprecedented manner into the themes of innocence and cruelty. The striking prose interweaves a frenetic style and a rising, almost-shrill rhythm in a dreamy way. The achingly personal relationships of these stupefying days reveal a deep-rooted perspective of the island’s history.” —L’Humanité (France)
“[Kaya Days] lays bare clashes of communities, brutalities and kindnesses across generations, pleasures and escapes through Carl de Souza’s attentive, vivid prose.” —Libération (France)