Beyond the Rice Fields
The first novel from Madagascar ever to be translated into English, Naivo’s magisterial Beyond the Rice Fields delves into the upheavals of the nation’s precolonial past through the twin narratives of a slave and his master’s daughter. Fara and her father’s slave, Tsito, have shared a tender intimacy since her father bought the young boy who’d been ripped away from his family after their forest village was destroyed. Now in Sahasoa, amongst the cattle and rice fields, everything is new for Tsito, and Fara at last has a companion to play with. But as Tsito looks forward toward the bright promise of freedom and Fara, backward to a twisted, long-denied family history, a rift opens that a rapidly shifting political and social terrain can only widen. As love and innocence fall away, their world becomes defined by what tyranny and superstition both thrive upon: fear. With captivating lyricism and undeniable urgency, Naivo crafts an unsentimental interrogation of the brutal history of nineteenth-century Madagascar as a land newly exposed to the forces of Christianity and modernity, and preparing for a violent reaction against them. Beyond the Rice Fields is a tour de force about the global history of human bondage and the competing narratives that keep us from recognizing ourselves and each other, our pasts and our destinies.