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Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Redemption in Indigo (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Karen Lord

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3523331,026 (3.84)63
Title:Redemption in Indigo
Authors:Karen Lord
Info:Small Beer Press (2010), Paperback, 188 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned, Read in 2012
Tags:2012, Barbados

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Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord (2010)


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Redemption in Indigo is a short novel inspired by African folklore. Paama has left her foolish and gluttonous husband, Ansige, and refuses to return to him. When he tries to win her back and instead makes a complete fool of himself, the djombi (spirits/gods) are so impressed with the way she handles the situation that they give her a gift of great power. But the djombi that it was taken from, the Indigo Lord wants it back, and badly.

I love the narrative style of this book – it takes the folktale inspiration and runs with it, it’s just like a storyteller was sitting in the room with you and telling you a story. We meander back and forth in time and point of view, and the narrator is quite opinionated at times. Paama is a terrific heroine, she’s calm, kind, and intuitively knows that the best thing to do with power is not use it. She’s also pragmatic – when the djombi threatens her family and asks her to give him the stick, she immediately hands it over. Of course, things aren’t that simple, since she actually has to believe that he’s the better person to wield it, and that’s the titular “redemption” of the story.

On the surface this story seems really simple, but there are a lot of layers and side plots – Anansi’s troubles with tricking people (yes, Anansi’s in this book!), Paama’s self-centered sister and her search for an eligible husband, the extremely competent House of Sisters that help Paama out. There’s not a lot of time spent of these, but they’re full of heart and the author’s deft characterization makes the characters seem like people you know pretty well.

Redemption in Indigo is very different from the other Karen Lord book I’ve read, The Best of All Possible Worlds, but it’s just as warm and well-told.
Comment ( )
  kgodey | Apr 11, 2017 |
This was such a wonderful adventure!

This is not typical science fiction at all. It's part fable, part folklore with gods and tricksters interfering in the lives of humans all the while.

I loved Paama. She's a heroine who is particularly difficult to write, unassuming, stoic, quiet, steadfast, vulnerable. How Karen Lord is able to take someone so seemingly ordinary and take all the little details that make her human and show the reader how great she is.

The narrator is funny, witty, dry and breaks the fourth wall in a way that I adore.

The only reason I would give this book a lower rating is because I think there are some parts that are so, so exciting and other times there were a few lulls in the action, but I can't complain anymore than that.

This book is great for its subtlety, for its details, for its depth, for its warmth, for its compassion.

I'm really, really happy I read this book.

( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
Redemption in Indigo is a fairy tale, somewhat Gaiman-esque, somewhat not, a very clear, very contained story of Paama, the wife of a fool, entrusted with the Chaos Stick that leads her down a path of self-fulfillment and empowerment. This is a story of magic, made real. It wound itself around me like a snake, entrapping me in it's seemingly elementary plot, leaving me spellbound to this day. Recently I read an author discussing techniques to avoid if you want your book review blog to be successful. Enthusiasm, he decided was not only destructive but trite and boring. I have decided to ignore his advice.

Full review visit: goo.gl/HyBlAQ ( )
  HollyBest | Jun 9, 2016 |
Redemption in Indigo is undeniably fantastical, but it more closely resembles a fairy tale or fable than your usual fantasy novel. Based upon a Senegalese folktale, Redemption in Indigo is the wryly humorous account of Paama, a mortal woman who attracts the attention of the djombi, who gift her with the Chaos Stick. However, the original owner of the Chaos Stick is unhappy with this change in ownership.

“All my tales are true, drawn from life, and a life story is not a tidy thing.”

My favorite thing about Redemption in Indigo was the focus on storytelling and the narrative voice. The unnamed narrator speaks in first person, sometimes addressing the reader directly, mimicking the feel and tradition of oral storytelling. What really makes this work is the subtle humor that shines through the narrator’s voice.

“You must never tell people their own stories. They have no interest in them, or they think they can tell them better themselves. Give them a stranger’s life, and then they’re content.”

Redemption in Indigo isn’t fast paced or packed with action. Instead, it’s a comfortable book. There’s a sense of warmth to it, and wisdom as well. And despite the occasional mentions of modern conveniences, Redemption in Indigo has a sense of timelessness to it.

I also liked Paama as a heroine. She’s brave, hard working, and resilient, and she triumphs more due to her determination and strong moral center than to any more typical means. Throughout the story, she’s shown the petty sides of humanity, often embodied in her lazy and gluttonous husband, but she continues to believe in the good in people.

Redemption in Indigo is a very different sort of fantasy story, but it is one well worth reading.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | May 4, 2016 |
I heard this described as "It's a retold fairy-tale from Senegal and the language is gorgeous - poetic but in an elegant and clear way, not a tangle of adjectives and weird metaphors. A bit Ursula Le Guin like. Also quite witty and meta. The plot is a bit of a mess, but I didn't much care." Sounds good to me!
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Inspired by a Senegalese folktale, Redemption in Indigo is the perfect antidote to the formula fantasies currently flooding the market. When Paama finally leaves her husband Ansige after 10 years of marriage, he follows her in an attempt to win her back. After a series of humorous, often slapstick episodes in which foolish Ansige gets himself into deeper trouble, only to be extricated by Paama, the watching djombi spirits give Paama the Chaos Stick which allows her to affect chance and probability. However, the Indigo Lord wants the stick back, kidnaps Paama, takes her on a wondrous tour and attempts to impress her with his magic. Précis fails to do justice to the novel's depth, beauty and elegant simplicity. Written from the point of view of an omniscient storyteller in the style of an oral narrative, this is a subtle, wise and playful meditation on life and fate.
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To the memory of my mother, Muriel Haynes Lord
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A rival of mine once complained that my stories begin awkwardly and end untidily.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A re-telling of a Senegalese folktale. Paama is presented with a gift from the undying ones: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world.

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Karen Lord is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Small Beer Press

An edition of this book was published by Small Beer Press.

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