Karen Lord’s debut novel Redemption in Indigo (Small Beer Press, July 2010) was this year’s winner of The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature at Mythcon 42 in July. The novel also won the William L. Crawford Fantasy Award and Frank Collymore Literary Competition. The awards are a testimony to the book’s creative storytelling.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, reviewer Jayna Brown, said that “Lord’s strengths as a writer are her witty, often satirical understatement and her ability to juxtapose folk- and fairy-tale devices with modern idioms and cultural references.” Brown noted Redemption in Indigo’s Senegalese, Caribbean, and European influences.
Publishers Weekly said that Lord’s “retelling of a Senegalese folktale, packs a great deal of subtly alluring storytelling into this small package.”
Karen Lord’s debut novel is an intricately woven tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit. Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents’ home in the village of Makendha—now he’s disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones—the djombi— who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone.
A rival of mine once complained that my stories begin awkwardly and end untidily. I am willing to admit to many faults, but I will not burden my conscience with that one. All my tales are true, drawn from life, and a life story is not a tidy thing. It is a half-tamed horse that you seize on the run and ride with knees and teeth clenched, and then you regretfully slip off as gently and safely as you can, always wondering if you could have gone a few metres more.
Thus I seize this tale, starting with a hot afternoon in the town of Erria, a dusty side street near the financial quarter. But I will make one concession to tradition…
…Once upon a time—but whether a time that was, or a time that is, or a time that is to come, I may not tell—there was a man, a tracker by occupation, called Kwame. He had been born in a certain country in a certain year when history had reached that grey twilight in which fables of true love, the power of princes, and deeds of honour are told only to children. He regretted this oversight on the part of Fate, but he managed to curb his restless imagination and do the daily work that brought in the daily bread.
Today’s work will test his self-restraint.