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Redemption in Indigo (2010)

by Karen Lord

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5113633,659 (3.87)76
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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» See also 76 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This was an utterly charming novel that combined the language and experience of folk tales with the structure and pacing of a fantasy novel extremely well. I loved it. Well worth hanging out on the library holds list for a few months. ( )
  andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
Just delightful. It's more a fable than fantasy, but it's so deftly done: clever and canny, whimsical and wise, never wallowing and never condescending. It's almost a fairytale for grown-ups, or a parable for the modern cynic, but most of all it's a lovely little story with a very satisfying arc. (I was sliiiightly put out by the last couple of pages, until an outrageously charming epilogue made it all better.) ( )
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
"Tales are meant to be an inspiration, not a substitute."

A full-length fairy tale inspired by African - Caribbean myths, specifically the Senegalese folktale, "Ansige Karamba the Glutton." Redemption in Indigo swept me off my feet yet I felt totally grounded each time I read its words. I loved every minute and the pages flew by! The narrator's voice is at times snarky which cracked me up, and I loved the POV. It really felt like I was sitting beside the narrator while they told the story and the events unfolded before my eyes. I look forward to reading this again -- probably next summer.

4 stars

"Leaner days, too, if truth be told, but Kwame had always found liberty more satisfying than comfort."

"Don't be startled at the galloping logic in the last thought. The will is usually in a hurry to get to the point of justification."

"Thus several names had come to be attached to these immortal beings as they wrought both mystery and mischief through all countries, cultures, and centuries of humanity. Since the story is about Paama, we will use her country's name for them--the djombi."

"I have mentioned previously the three different categories of undying ones. Never assume that these categories represent boundaries that are never crossed or lines that cannot be redrawn. It is not the known danger that we most fear, the shark that patrols the bay, the lion that rules the savannah. It is the betrayal of what we trust and hold close to our hearts that is our undoing: the captain who staves in the boat, the king who sells his subjects into slavery, the child who murders the parent."

"So, trust him not, but do not believe that all his actions are intended for the ruin of those affected, human or djombi. I, too, shall have to wait until the tale is fully told before I can be sure which way he will turn." (speaking on The Trickster)

"'Some humans find it so. There will be no death, I promise you, but there will be severe embarrassment, which is but a small death of the ego.'"

"'I find that sometimes if you just sit still, things have a way of finding you before you can find them.'"

"'If you don't mind yourself,' she began again deliberately, 'if you don't learn to control yourself, the baccou will steal your skin and behave so badly that even you will be ashamed of yourself.'"

"...'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.'"

"For others the tale is a way of living vicariously, enjoying the adventures of others without having to go one step beyond their sphere of comfort. To them I say: what's stopping you from getting on a ship and sailing halfway around the world? Tales are meant to be an inspiration, not a substitute." ( )
  flying_monkeys | Mar 8, 2018 |
This was awesome as it was something I did not expect and so different from all things I have read before. It has the same warmth as The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency but it has some magic too and more wit and the plot moves faster. ( )
  jagheterkatri | Dec 29, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (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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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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