Joseph Zobel

Black Shack Alley
  • Black Shack Alley

  • Following in the tradition of Richard Wright's Black Boy, Joseph Zobel's semi-autobiographical 1950 novel Black Shack Alley chronicles the coming-of-age of José, a young boy grappling with his identity in colonial Martinique.

    As José transitions from childhood to young adulthood and from rural plantations to urban Fort-de-France on a quest for upward mobility, he bears witness to and struggles against the various manifestations of white supremacy, both subtle and overt, that will alter the course of his life. Zobel's masterpiece, the basis for the award-winning film Sugar Cane Alley, is a powerful testament to twentieth-century life in Martinique, with a foreword by award-winning Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau.

Joseph Zobel was born in 1915 in Rivière-Salée, Martinique. His many works include the novel La rue cases-négres (translated as Black Shack Alley) and its continuation, La fète à Paris. A noted poet and a gifted sculptor, as well as an influential radio producer in Senegal, Zobel retired to a small village in 1974. He died in 2006.

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