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Redemption in Indigo (2010)

by Karen Lord

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6424636,808 (3.94)77
This fascinating debut by Karen Lord-a retelling of a Senegalese folktale-earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and won the Frank Collymore Award. When Paama finally leaves her gluttonous husband, she attracts the attention of the undying spirit Patience, who gives her Chance's Chaos Stick as a gift. But Chance insists that only he should wield the stick's powers. "This is one of those literary works of which it can be said that not a word should be changed."-Booklist, starred review… (more)
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» See also 77 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Redemption in Indigo is a reworking of a West African folk tale into something that occurs in (it seems) an unspecified recent past in a Senegal-ish place, where supernatural forces live alongside regular people. Paama, a gifted cook, finally leaves her foolish husband and finds herself unwittingly in possession of a kind of power that humans don't normally wield.

The seams between the original folk tale and Karen Lord's own contributions are obvious and fairly lumpy, but that's compensated for by the book's warmth and its charming narrative voice. ( )
  siriaeve | Sep 2, 2023 |
This is another book that had been on my to-read list for ages, and I had seen it included on so many lists of recommended books on bookstagram and list challenges. I was literally just walking through the speculative fiction section in the library on my way to check out when this book caught my eye on the shelves and I added it to my stack.

I was so charmed from the very first sentence all the way to the last. Tricksters and immortal spirits and humans collide in a story drawing from a variety of influences, including a Senegalese folk tale, in a way that ends up feeling timeless.

Paama has run away from her husband, who is a fool and a glutton. Paama has an extraordinary gift for cooking, and also an extraordinary talent for being able to put up with a ridiculous level of nonsense while staying within the constraints of what is expected of her as a wife, a daughter, a woman of her community. It is for the latter gift that she attracts the attention of the undying ones, who give her a gift with extraordinary powers -- the Chaos Stick. Unfortunately, this is not the end of her challenges, but rather just the middle.

The prose is a joy and the characters are fascinating. Paama could easily be the kind of character who is so perfect and self-sacrificing that it is hard to identify with or root for her, but the no nonsense ways she does stick u0 for herself make her more interesting. And the side characters, even the most terrible of them, we gain a little empathy for by the end. and many of them grow and meet their match and turn out to be less silly than they at first seemed.

Such a satisfying tale! ( )
  greeniezona | Jul 31, 2023 |
This was a lovely story, treading the line between myth and fairytale, and a delight to read. It even has a moral!

The story takes place in an unnamed African country, where a young woman is given the powerful Stick of Chaos used by a Djombi deity to guide the vagaries of chance. The Djobmi has been lying down on the job, so another prods his progress by kicking off a series of events that include trickster spider gods, lovestruck poets, hidden treasure and gluttonous good-for-nothing husbands.

The writing is graceful and enjoyable, and the characters human and relatable. It's concentrated warmth in a story. ( )
  JimDR | Dec 7, 2022 |
I am sure this is a delightful book if you are in the right mood but this is too much of a fairy tale for me. ( )
  Dokfintong | Nov 21, 2022 |
As an audiobook, Redemption in Indigo worked remarkable well. The book is written as if it is being told orally by a storyteller, so listening to the story unfold was perfect. The narrator was brilliant, with distinct voices and accents for each character and provided an extra layer of enjoyment to the tale.

Redemption in Indigo is really a story in two parts. The first part is more like a traditional folktale, with Ansige's visit to Makendha and his repeated follies due to his gluttonous ways. The second part is the meat of the tale, with Paama receiving the Chaos Stick and the Indigo Lord's attempt to regain his power.

This story was charming, with some wise morals and lessons to be given. I will definitely be reading more by this author. ( )
  wisemetis | Sep 16, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (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.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lord, Karenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miles, RobinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
Quotations
Chaos was a far subtler force than most people realised. It would be so easy to sense if it threw off thunderbolts or sent barely sensed thrummings through the fabric of reality, but it was nothing more than the possible made probable.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This fascinating debut by Karen Lord-a retelling of a Senegalese folktale-earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and won the Frank Collymore Award. When Paama finally leaves her gluttonous husband, she attracts the attention of the undying spirit Patience, who gives her Chance's Chaos Stick as a gift. But Chance insists that only he should wield the stick's powers. "This is one of those literary works of which it can be said that not a word should be changed."-Booklist, starred review

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

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