Read Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord Online


A 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: thA 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 contemporary fairy tale that is inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale....

Title : Redemption in Indigo
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781931520669
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 188 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Redemption in Indigo Reviews

  • Amanda
    2019-03-14 16:51

    What a lukewarm cup of "meh." After all of the stellar reviews, I just knew this was going to be ah-may-zing, but, alas, it's basically a fable. Ever since Paulo Coelho's New Agey-craptastic The Alchemist, me + fables = nervous twitch. Because I start to develop a Community's Jeff Winger like aversion to the feeling that someone's trying to teach me something--and I never learn anything! This didn't turn out to be as didactic as The Alchemist because it's more focused on the storytelling than on the lesson, but just waiting for that other moral-of-the-story shoe to fall was mentally exhausting.The basic premise of the story is that the deity known as Chance has become hardened toward mankind. Over the years, he has watched as men have squandered second chances and made a mockery/waste of the gift that is life. For this reason, the other gods no longer trust him with the Chaos Stick, the instrument of chance to nudge events toward a certain probability. The Chaos Stick is stolen from Chance and given to a woman named Paama who has proven herself to be kind, patient, and impervious to the suggestions of the minor Trickster deities who sometimes inhabit the bodies of insects and stir up mischief whenever possible. When Chance discovers Paama has his power, he sets about trying to get it back.The story was marginally entertaining and it was at least a quick read, but even at that the plot seemed to drag on. This is not necessarily a criticism of Lord as the book does what it's intended to do: mimic the narrative style of a traditional storyteller who is in no hurry to get to the end of the tale and is even eager to follow parallel narratives to their endings before bringing the main story to a close. I suppose this storytelling style had a certain charm when villagers gathered around the campfire each night to listen to the newest installment of the tale (it's not like there was tv to watch or books to read, so I guess sitting in the dark and listening to an old man ramble on was the cat's pajamas after a long day of running from lions and whatnot). However, this meandering quality did not translate well into written form for me as I expected it to be more cohesive and more to the point. The plot itself was like a dog chasing rabbits in the middle of a hunt, and the characters were fairly uninteresting and one-dimensional (except for Paama, but even she was bland). Again, all of this is as it should be for a fable. What I've really learned from this reading experience is that fables and I need to break up and maybe see other people. Don't look at me like that, fables--it's not me, it's you.Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder

  • Paul
    2019-03-09 13:59

    4.5 starsThis is a fable, almost a fantasy with an all knowing narrator/story teller. I must admit I am sometimes wary of fantasies (remember The Alchemist!!), but I enjoyed this one. It is a reworking of a Senegalese tale, “Ansige Karamba the Glutton”, the main protagonist being Paama, his wife. She is driven away by his greed and selfishness and returns to her family home. She is noticed by the djombi (undying ones), some of whom gives her the Chaos Stick, a totem that has some power. However, another djombi (with an indigo skin, hence the title) claims the right to wield it. A fantastical journey ensues.Karen Lord speaks thus about Paama, the main character;“It was a risk, making Paama the protagonist. After all, what makes for good living does not always make for good story. But Paama told me very clearly the kind of heroine she was going to be and the plot moulded itself around her personality. She failed, and did not despair; cried, and stayed strong; left, and returned on her own terms. Her enemy expected a head-on confrontation, but she countered with strategic yielding. She kept making choices, good and bad, and never stopped learning from the bad and improving on the good. She mastered the art of serendipity, which is more than mere luck. She wielded the Stick well.”And she sums up her tale in this way;“Don’t get distracted by the talking animals, the deathless beings, the Object of Power and the other staples of fantasy that I’ve added to Paama’s story. Redemption in Indigo is a novel which celebrates ordinary people and everyday magic, because sometimes all it takes to be a heroine is to choose wisely, walk softly and carry a small Stick.”This is Lord’s first novel and she has continued to write speculative fiction based on tropes from Caribbean and African tradition. I’m going to quote from Lord again, talking about her work and what Caribbean speculative fiction is and how it differs from other types, because she writes rather well“Location, language, worldview. It won’t be set in the same places, it won’t be told in the same voice, and it won’t seek the same outcomes. The Caribbean is a beautiful paradox: insular and cosmopolitan, ancient and modern, radical and conservative, accommodating and unforgiving.”The novel moves at a good pace and is easy to read and in a fabulist narrative it is a good to encounter a strong female protagonist and there’s a nice little twist at the end. It is essentially about change and choices, learning and teaching. Food is also a central theme;“I have heard tales of how magnificently she can cook. I could relate for you a description of a morsel of her honey-almond cake, a delicacy which is light enough to melt on the tip of the tongue and yet it lingers on the palate with its subtle flavours long into the dream-filled reaches of the night. I could sing the praises, second-hand, alas, of her traveller's soup, a concoction of smoothly blended and balanced vegetables and herbs guaranteed to put heart and strength back into the bones of the weariest voyager.... I have just this moment recalled a certain jar that sits in her kitchen, filled with dried fruit steeping in spice spirit, red wine, cinnamon, and nutmeg, patiently awaiting that day months or even years hence when it will be baked into a festival cake that will turn the head of the most seasonal toper."The novel is well written and has great human warmth and it was good to come across a fable that is Non-European roots. Lord herself is an interesting character and I will certainly read more of her work.

  • TheBookSmugglers
    2019-03-12 15:58

    There is a point in Redemption in Indigo when the omniscient narrator says that “tales are meant to be an inspiration, not a substitute”. It is a meaningful line and one that sticks around longer than expected. It is one line among many others within this novel that provokes the reader and stimulates a certain level of engagement about the nature of storytelling and reader’s expectation. It is also an appropriately self-descriptive line because Redemption in Indigo is inspiring.The story draws inspiration from a folk tale from Senegal about a heroine named Paama. Her story though is only but a starting point for Karen Lord to construct her own fantastical tale – one that includes djombi (spirits that are mainly personifications of ideas or forces such as change or patience), tricksters and a stick that can control the forces of chaos.Paama is a wonderful cook and her husband Ansige is a glutton. You would think theirs is a match made in heaven but Ansige’s gluttony is accompanied by intolerance, arrogance and stupidity and finally after years of endurance, Paama leaves Ansige. Two years later, the man is finally moved to go in search of his wife, finding Paama living with her parents in her childhood home. Ansige’s penchant to get into silly situations and create a myriad of problems is equivalent only to Paama’s awesome efficiency with dealing with them. It is this mixture of endurance and brilliance that brings Paama to the attention of a djombi in search of someone to carry the Chaos Stick after it was seized from its previous owner – another djombi with indigo skin who misused its power but still insists he is its rightful owner and will do anything in his power to get it back.What ensues is an extremely elaborate tale that deals with very human feelings against the backdrop of universal- sized problems in a sublime combination of the immediate (and short-lived) and the everlasting (and immortal). On the one hand there lies Paama and her family, their village, their prospects in life. There are dreams to be lived and love to be had as well as hurdles to be overcome. Paama is a brilliant heroine, resilient, brave, vulnerable and uncertain. This is someone who buries her tears and carries her burden and deals with her problems the best way she can.On the other hand, the immortal djombi and the trickster watch, mingle and affect and are in turn, affected by all this humanity. The principal plot is that between the indigo djombi and Paama and their way of using (or not) the Chaos Stick. The djombi at first shows a disregard for human beings (reason of his downfall) that is equal to Paama’s esteem for them although her gaze turns out be perhaps too short-sighted which is, of course, only to be expected. It is ironic actually that this puny, short-lived human is given the stick by the personification of patience. There is an undeniable gravitas to this story and yet it is deceptively light due mostly to its narrative. As great as the story and the characters are, the omniscient narrator is what tips the scale and sets this story into awesome territory. The narrator tells this story in a way that reminisce oral traditions, that reminds of old times, that invites the reader to come closer and to listen carefully. It is a narrator that is utterly familiar and incredibly original at the same time and equal parts funny, opinionated and wise: I told you from the very beginning that it was a story about choices – wise choices, foolish choices, small yet momentous choices – for with choices come change, and with change comes opportunity , and both change and opportunity are the very cutting edge of the power of chaos. And yet as the undying ones know and the humans too often forget, even chaos cannot overcome the power of choice.Redemption in Indigo is a brilliant little gem of a novel, as close to perfect as storytelling can be. It is hard to believe that such an intricate tale could be told in just about 200 pages. It is even harder to believe that this is Karen Lord’s debut given how self-assured the narrative is. But it is extremely easy to see how this book has earned such well-deserved admiration, mine included.

  • Wendy
    2019-03-11 13:48

    Based on a Senagalese folk tale, Redemption in Indigo follows a similar quirky story telling style to weave an intricate and sweet little story about a woman named Paama. Paama is the elder of two daughters, married to a not-overly-impressive lord. The match seemed like it would work well enough, though, since Paama is an exceptional cook and Ansige loves food. But after ten years of feeding his insatiable maw, Paama has had enough and returns home to her family. Ansige follows with his moronic bumbling, but Paama reveals her true character by never once trying to make him look bad (though he does it well enough on his own). When they finally part ways, the djombi see her true heart as worthy of the Chaos Stick, but the indigo lord disagrees and demands she return his power. What happens next is both surprising and bittersweet. This originally popped up as a Goodreads recommendation and I quickly grabbed it, though I ended up reading and loving Lord’s second book, The Best of All Possible Worlds, first. The two books are very different in many ways – the latter being more of a subtle science fiction story that sneaks in romance – but both books share Lord’s artful storytelling. It’s something that I can only describe as “comfortable,” because that’s how it makes me feel when I read her books. Her words flow so smoothly and unobtrusively, quietly sucking you into the story and characters before you even realize it. Lord is, quite simply, a master storyteller.Re-imagined fairy tales and folk tales are not uncommon, but it is rare to find ones that aren't based in European lore. Some might recognized the trickster spider, Anansi, making an appearance in Redemption in Indigo, but otherwise, this is a refreshingly different tale. And different is very, very good.See more reviews atThe BiblioSanctum

  • K.J. Charles
    2019-03-25 15:58

    A magical read, not surprised it won so many prizes. It's a sort of fairytale with an oral-tradition feel narration, about a woman who is briefly given the power of chaos when the spirit of Chance stops doing his job properly. Wise, funny, immensely readable, written with deceptive simplicity: if you like T Kingfisher, or books that centre human decency without ever being rose-tinted, you'll love this.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-02-22 13:49

    Lord is a Caribbean author who weaves a Senegalese folk tale into a somewhat modern retelling. Not having read the original folktale, I'm not sure where one leaves off and another begins, but the story of Paama ("she could cook") and her foolish glutton husband was an easy and entertaining read.All of these quotations are food related, a placeholder for when I bake something Senegalese."[Paama] could cook. An inadequate statement. Anyone can cook, but the true talent belongs to those who are capable of gently ensnaring with their delicacies, winning compliance with the mere suggestion that there might not be any goodies for a caller who persisted in prying. Life... could be sweet when there was a savoury stew gently bubbling on the stove, rice with a hint of jasmine steaming in the pot, and honey cakes browning in the oven. It almost cured Semwe's stoically silent worry, Tasi's guilty fretting, and Neila's bitter sighs."At one point, she decides to make millet dumplings and grinds the millet as she sings this call-and-response song:"Beat him down, beat him downthen we can hold his wakeMaize for porridge, barley for beerMillet for dumpling and cake....""I have heard tales of how magnificently she can cook. I could relate for you a description of a morsel of her honey-almond cake, a delicacy which is light enough to melt on the tip of the tongue and yet it lingers on the palate with its subtle flavours long into the dream-filled reaches of the night. I could sing the praises, secondhand, alas, of her traveller's soup, a concoction of smoothly blended and balanced vegetables and herbs guaranteed to put heart and strength back into the bones of the weariest voyager.... I have just this moment recalled a certain jar that sits in her kitchen, filled with dried fruit steeping in spice spirit, red wine, cinnamon, and nutmeg, patiently awaiting that day months or even years hence when it will be baked into a festival cake that will turn the head of the most seasonal toper."

  • Ranting Dragon
    2019-03-05 19:06 in Indigo is the debut novel from Barbadian writer Karen Lord (I did have to Google how to refer to someone from Barbados). It has won several literary awards that are unfamiliar to me, including the Crawford Award for best fantasy novel by a new writer. Redemption in Indigo was also chosen as one of Amazon’s Top 10 science fiction and fantasy books of 2010 and has been nominated for the Locus Award.I feel woefully unqualified to review this book, but …I was (and honestly remain) completely ignorant of the folkloric tradition in which Lord is writing, so I feel utterly unable to comment on Redemption in Indigo’s place in that tradition. Nor will I comment on the tale’s advertised African, specifically Senegalese, flavor because I am admittedly the whitest man alive. I also know next to nothing about the author. I chose to read the book on the strength of numerous recommendations. I came in cold, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—high expectations but zero preconceptions.The story begins as the simple tale of Paama who is trying to escape her buffoonish husband, Ansige. Ansige’s foolishness derives from his absolutely insatiable appetite. He goes to bewildering lengths in order to remain well-fed, ironically driving Paama away in spite of her love of cooking. The scale of the story escalates as Paama’s journey brings her into contact with the djombi, spirits of a sort, who entrust her with the power of chaos in the form of a stirring stick. There is another force who seeks the rod, the indigo djombi, who has become detached from humankind and confronts Paama with the realities of human nature and the responsibilities of great power.Sometimes people say ‘interesting’ or ‘different’ when they mean ‘bad’Redemption in Indigo is not the sort of book I typically read. I knew I was in for something different from the usual fantasy fare the moment I picked up the book without straining any muscles. There are certainly fantastic elements, such as the self-conscious fairy tale beginning “Once upon a time …” and Paama’s interaction with spirits, but the content and style are unique in my limited experience. I might step out on a limb and describe Redemption in Indigo as a mashup of fantasy, folk legend, and science-fiction. Far from being put off by Lord’s new (yet somehow traditional) approach, I found it intriguing.Everything old is new againLord’s storytelling fits nicely in the oral tradition. The narrator’s voice recreates the intimate experience of sitting around a campfire listening to a tale filled with anecdote, brief narratorial intrusion, opinion, and sentiment. Thus an already humorous and enchanting tale becomes even more charming. There is a mischievous joy in Lord’s writing, evident in chapter titles such as “Ansige eats lamb and murders a peacock.” Yet there is distinct warmth, particularly played out in the character of Paama, who strives to protect Ansige even in her immense exasperation.The story is tightly paced, which many fantasy readers may find refreshing. Redemption in Indigo will probably be the shortest novel I read this year. The narrator’s sense of humor also serves to keep matters brisk and entertaining even as deeper, difficult issues are explored; however, the levity didn’t always work for me.Why should you read this book?Fantasy readers will enjoy a delightful and unique reading experience which they will find brisk if nothing else. To put it bluntly, like myself many will benefit from expanding their horizons beyond doorstop fantasy written by white males.

  • Emily (BellaGrace)
    2019-02-23 13:50

    So, I was out of town this weekend and found this book available as an audio file from my local library. I chose this one because it was only 6 hours long and because it fits many fantasy bingo categories (magical realism, fantasy that isn't western culture, under 3k reviews, book published in the 2000s). Anyway - if I had been reading this as an actual book, I would have quit, but since I had nothing else to do for my 10 hour round trip drive I persevered just so I could check off one of the more obscure bingo categories.This book is an African fable and I hated it. It was really boring, I didn't care about any one in it. I thought parts of it were really repetitive and ridiculous. I was completely uninterested in the story. Everything just moved really slowly. Frankly, I'm probably being generous giving it two stars. Obviously, this type of book, just isn't for me.Edit: PS - the narrator for this book was fantastic.

  • David Hebblethwaite
    2019-03-14 12:43

    Redemption in Indigo is Karen Lord’s interpretation/extension of a Senegalese folktale. We begin with the gluttonous Ansige tracking down his wife Paama, who had left him; after being tricked and humiliated three times by djombi (spirit creatures, ‘gods’), Ansige takes his leave. That’s where the traditional folktale ends. Lord then continues Paama’s story by having a djombi present her with the Chaos Stick, an artefact which can manipulate the small possibilities of chaos – and Paama uses it with some skill. But the Chaos Stick was stolen from another djombi, the indigo lord, who rather wants it back; he takes Paama on a journey to show her the dangers of the chaos stick – but ends up learning lessons of his own as well.Lord’s novel is written as though being spoken aloud by a storyteller, and this unknown narrator frequently interjects to address the reader directly; as here, when a djombi (in the form of a spider) makes itself known to human characters for the first time:I know your complaint already. You are saying, how do two grown men begin to see talking spiders after only three glasses of spice spirit? My answer to that is twofold. First, you have no idea how strong spice spirit is made in that region. Second, you have no idea how talking animals operate. Do you think they would have survived long if they regularly made themselves known? For that matter, do you think an arachnid with mouthparts is capable of articulating the phrase “I am a pawnbroker” in any known human language? Think! These creatures do not truly talk, nor are they truly animals, but they do encounter human folk, and when they do, they carefully take with them all memory of the meeting. (pp. 20-1)I just love this: it says to readers that they must accept the book on its own terms, must take the time to appreciate how it works. This kind of interjection would normally derail a novel completely, but it’s integral to the project of Redemption in Indigo; and, once you get into the rhythm of the book, I think it’s nigh-on impossible not to be carried along.Redemption in Indigo balances traditional roots with what feels a very contemporary take on the folktale form.For one thing, Lord includes modern details – antacid chews, buses – in a setting that nevertheless seems timeless; it doesn’t feel forced or strange that she has done this – it’s just that the specific temporal markers are largely irrelevant. Redemption in Indigo also feels contemporary because it has underpinnings in quantum physics. That’s the level on which the Chaos Stick works, and the indigo lord is keen to show Paama that tiny changes can have far-reaching – and sometimes unintended – consequences. It’s an archetypal ‘character learns better’ scenario, but placed in a scientific framework.So the plot of Lord’s novel is all about choices and having multiple options; but this theme is embedded even deeper in the text. The narrator is at pains to point out that this story has a moral, but rather less eager be specific what that moral is. The tale is left open, in terms of what we are to think about it (‘I have no way of knowing which of these characters will most capture your attention and sympathy,’ pp. 265-6) and its ending (‘Do I have more stories to tell? There are always more stories,’ p. 266) – but even that isn’t left to stand, as the epilogue brings a more novelistic conclusion. As in quantum theory, multiple possibilities exist within the text, yet to collapse into something definitive.Redemption in Indigo is a novel of contradictions: written yet spoken; defiantly ragged but carefully controlled; a book that swears to your face it’s didactic whilst telling you to nothing but make up your own mind. It embraces yet subverts the folktale form by giving its comic beginning a certain dramatic weight by the end, and turning its characters (both human and djombi) into rounded individuals who can learn from and teach each other in equal measure. And it’s enormous fun to read; heartily recommended.You can also hear me discussing Redemption in Indigo in this episode of The Readers podcast.

  • Jim
    2019-03-12 11:08

    Lord mentions that chapters two through four are loosely based on a Senegalese folk tale, and the entire book has that same feel. From the very first page, Lord creates the illusion not of turning the pages, but of sitting back and listening to a master storyteller, one who has no compunctions about addressing the audience directly. It’s a voice that works perfectly for Paama’s story.I loved this book, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say about it, beyond the fact that Lord consistently made choices in her storytelling that I didn’t expect, but that felt right when I read them. None moreso than the way she ended things, which I can’t talk about without spoiling the whole darn book. Sigh.I will say that if you’re looking for a traditional Western/American fantasy about an orphaned farmboy who vanquishes the evil overlord with a magic doohickamabob, this isn’t the book for you. Lord’s story challenges such tropes from page one, questioning everything from the nature of evil to the assumption that the only heroic choice is to fight and defeat your presumed foes.One of my favorite moments in the book is when the djombi threatens to harm Paama’s family unless she returns the Chaos Stick … so she immediately hands it over. It’s instinctive. She doesn’t crave power, and she refuses to risk her loved ones over some ridiculous need to maintain face or appear defiant.And of course, topping everything off, there’s a trickster spider character. How can I not love the trickster spider?Let me put it this way. I read most of this one in the airport on the way to Kentucky, and I was happy my flight was delayed, because it meant I had more time to read.

  • Nikki
    2019-02-25 10:58

    I've been meaning to read something by Karen Lord for a while. For some reason, the fact that a group I participate in a lot on GR is reading one of her other books (which I also own) next month made me read this one. I won't question it too much, because I enjoyed this a lot. It's a short/quick read, and it's different: it isn't at all your run of the mill fantasy. I read it without knowing any of the background stuff about it being based on a Senegalese story, and I don't regret that -- instead of looking for the joining places between Lord's story and the original story, I enjoyed the whole thing.It's told fairly simply, in the style of a more or less oral narrative -- there's a conversational narrator, and the basic ideas are easy to lay hold of. I really enjoyed that it was in many ways a domestic story, with cooking and family at its heart. I also enjoyed that I didn't guess every twist exactly right.Because of the fable/fairytale-like tone, I wasn't looking for too much from the characters: the execution matches the form, while still providing likeable/pitiable who you can, to some extent, get to know. Still, if characters, setting, etc, really matter to you, then this might not be for you. I'm normally all about the characters, but this so perfectly hit my soft spots for a) something new and different and b) something that emulates another form well that I couldn't resist it.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-24 11:51

    This was a very enchanting tale and an enjoyable read. The author has incorporated an interesting collection characters nicely into this story. Some of the writing is truly excellent, as in chapter 20 where the story teller relates the heroine's culinary skills:"I have heard tales of how magnificently she can cook. I could relate for you a description of a morsel of her honey-almond cake, a delicacy which is light enough to melt on the tip of the tongue and yet it lingers on the palate with its subtle flavours long into the dream-filled reaches of the night. I could sing the praises, secondhand, alas, of her traveller's soup, a concoction of smoothly blended and balanced vegetables and herbs guaranteed to put heart and strength back into the bones of the weariest voyager.... I have just this moment recalled a certain jar that sits in her kitchen, filled with dried fruit steeping in spice spirit, red wine, cinnamon, and nutmeg, patiently awaiting that day months or even years hence when it will be baked into a festival cake that will turn the head of the most seasonal toper."A great page turner which I would gladly recommend.

  • Kara
    2019-03-09 16:48

    While loosely based on the folklore of Senegal, this book is rather nebulous in the time and place of its setting. It has a lot of markings of a traditionally told fairy tale, using a style of storytelling that was already traditional around the time Homer was telling the Odyssey, but still feels fresh and new today, partly by giving agency to the type of people who are either invisible or props in most stories.The story follows the young woman Paama as she struggles to deal with the fact her marriage is over, followed quickly by some meddling immortals who suck her into the middle of their own problems. Paama is able to think on her feet, reacting quite well to all sorts of situations, coming up with a lot of smart solutions to problems, and, when a problem has no solution, is able to react just as gracefully to the idea that sometimes nothing IS all you can do.The setting is lovingly described, making the story pop with an extra layer of magical realism like a Maxfield Parish painting.Overall,a dreamy, lyrical, sharp, funny, sad, wonderful story.

  • Kristen
    2019-03-16 17:54

    My favorite of Karen Lord's books is still The Best of All Possible Worlds, but I also really enjoyed Redemption in Indigo (especially the first half, which I LOVED). Though there was more focus on storytelling than characterization, Paama was a great main protagonist--resourceful, compassionate, and overall admirable. The book was often quite humorous, but it was less light in the second half.Full Review:

  • Ali George
    2019-03-16 16:05

    I enjoyed this a lot. I loved the folk tale framing with a bit of chaos theory chucked in. I liked the narrator who merrily took the mickey out of storytelling conventions. I loved the heroine, Paama, a practical and kind woman who kept confounding the expectations of all the other characters. I also enjoyed the volume and diversity of female characters, particularly the Sisters. The stand out passage for me was actually when Kwame asked them to describe Paama and they told him of her courage and integrity - it didn't occur to them to think in terms of appearance. I loved that.

  • else fine
    2019-03-14 11:59

    This book gives you exactly the same feeling of enchantment you get from listening to a really great storyteller, which is a very hard thing to capture in print. It's got all the right pauses and asides, the right amounts of humor and suspense and romance and intrigue, and an uplifting but uncheesy moral. Absolutely magical.

  • Margaret
    2019-03-24 15:03

    Paama is a marvelous cook who's married to glutton. When some djomba notice how deftly she deals with her husband, they give her the chaos stick, and from there magic happens.Redemption in Indigo is based on Sengalese folklore, and I appreciated the glimpse into a world and folklore I'm unfamiliar with. It's told a bit simply for my tastes, but has that oral folklore feel. 3.5/5

  • Wealhtheow
    2019-03-20 11:05

    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!

  • Craig
    2019-03-16 17:55

    A charming retold Sengalese folktale, very lighthearted and magical. A whiff of Tutula, a sprinkle of Okri, a dash of LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, told in a witty, wise storytellers voice. Tricksters and magic and morality tales abound in this colorful story.

  • Marion Hill
    2019-03-19 14:56

    Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord is a fable about a woman named Paama from the African village of Makendha. Paama endures a bad marriage to a gluttonous husband and when she finally leaves him brings the attention of the djombi, the undying ones, who present her with a gift, the chaos stick. The gift draws another spirit’s attention who wants it back from Paama.Paama is taken on a journey by this spirit to show humanity’s self-destructive tendencies. She faces a decision during the journey that could change the course of her life. The lessons learned from her decision reveals a strength of character and a sense of familial duty.Karen Lord’s first novel is a gentle and well-told fable that grabbed my attention from the opening pages until the ending. If you are looking for something to read quick, enjoyable, and thought-provoking, then I would recommend Redemption In Indigo.

  • Chris
    2019-03-07 13:59

    I would say this almost feels like an extended short story. And I mean that in the best sense. Atmospheric, rhythmic and each word seeming perfectly considered. A real gem.

  • Mike
    2019-03-14 11:04

    I read fantasy and science fiction, in part, to expose my mind to new perspectives, to the situations of people with very different backgrounds to my own, who nevertheless have a basic kinship to me so that I can identify with their struggles. It seems natural, then, to expand my reading beyond British and American writers of European descent, and take in some fiction by people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds from my own. There's a small, but flourishing, group of Caribbean writers of African descent working in SFF at the moment, and I'm starting to read their work and, so far, finding it excellent. I very much enjoyed N.K. Jemison's first book (note: it's been pointed out to me that Jemison isn't, in fact, Caribbean), and this work of Karen Lord's is just as good. The language, for instance, is highly competent, more so than in all but a few books I read (like me, Lord has a degree in English language, and it shows). Even though it's told in the voice of a traditional storyteller, with the simplicity and directness of style that implies, it's a beautiful simplicity and directness. It's also flawlessly edited - meaning, most likely, that it was close to flawless when it was submitted. The narrator's voice is very much present, saying things like "Perhaps I will tell you about it later, if we have the time." That's unusual in current writing, where the fashion is for a third-person narrative that tries to make the narrator disappear, and shows us the events from the perspective of the participants without quite using their first-person voices. (YA and urban fantasy are frequently exceptions, pulling out the full first-person perspective.) I found this evident narrator, displaying biases and assumptions openly, a refreshing change. At one point, the narrator says "The village court of Makendha, like village courts the world over..." Of course, as the author is well aware, village courts don't exist the world over, but in the world of the narrator, they do - and this is just the kind of thing that narrators, and authors, of Eurocentric fantasy tend to say, displaying their unquestioned belief that everywhere is like the places they are familiar with.The book even concludes with a harangue to the reader from the narrator, talking about how some people will dislike the characters, and scolding those who don't want to take a moral or learn anything from the stories they consume. I thought this was bordering on too much narratorial voice, and it almost dropped my rating down to four stars, but the story itself is good enough that I forgive it.The story situation is this: A powerful spirit, tasked with looking after humanity, has come to have a degree of contempt for them, and his power has accordingly been confiscated and handed over to a human. This human, a woman who's separated from her deeply flawed husband and whose most distinctive skill is an amazing ability to cook, has a number of adventures in which both she and some of those around her learn a great deal and change their perspectives on life. That's the core story. However, it starts with the story of the idiot husband, and finishes with the story of the woman's sons, and both of these stories interact with the main story, giving and receiving light. It isn't a straightforward through-line such as I'm used to in fiction. Told in a different style, the beginning and end might seem tacked on, and an editor might prune them away, but told in the way this story is told, they both contribute to the whole book for reasons that are more related to theme and character than they are to plot, strictly defined. The characters are beautifully drawn, from the trickster who finds himself becoming responsible to the main character, a strong woman whose strength is nothing at all to do with combat and whose greatest skill isn't used to resolve the plot (though it is important to building the character relationships). It's as far from a fantasy novel based on someone's game of D&D as you can get.I've been reflecting lately that there are two major kinds of genre writing. The first kind is simply an adventure: unusual things happen to a character and they deal with them. Adventures are wonderful, and I enjoy them. What makes a much more lasting impression on me, though, are books of the second kind, in which the adventure points beyond itself to insights about human experience in general, of which the adventure is one example. This is a book of that second kind.

  • Roxane
    2019-03-05 14:52

    This read was for the 2012 Theme Park book club, February theme: Black Women Writing Speculative Fiction.Karen Lord's novel relies strongly on both Caribbean and Senegalese folklore, both being inexhaustible resources for speculative fiction writers that are sadly too seldom tapped into. Redemption in Indigo tells the tale of one remarkable and yet ordinary woman, her encounter with djombi, which seem to be halfway between poltergeists and skin walkers, and the choices she is consequently faced with. This short and yet dense novel is written in an uncluttered style. I don't think it holds a word too many. It's subtle, sensible and unexpectedly humorous.Much as in the oral tradition, the novel is as much about the characters and the plot than it is about the way it is recounted. In fact, the narrator soon becomes a character in his own right. I generally find it difficult to get into written stories when the narrator is too intrusive. For some reason, it feels a bit like I'm getting a glimpse at what's taking place behind the curtain. Note that I don't have that problem with oral stories for some reason but I've not often felt that it transcribed well in the written form. It can easily sound forced and awkward. Not here though, the story is constantly tainted by the narrator, his interruptions and explanations, the unheard comments from his audience who disagree or would like him to expand on certain points. It almost felt like a work in progress, demanding the intervention of the audience. And although the narrator does not necessarily enjoy these interruptions, he does take them into account. It's something that I've previously encountered in other forms, in speculative fiction works written by black women although it's clearly not a process limited to this demographic group. But back to the novel, the process makes the novel engaging, especially because the narrator has dry sense of humor.I always try to do a bit of research before putting together a review, I read other reviews but most of all I read bit and pieces of the author's blog (if they have one) and also interviews. I feel like they give me a better sense of what tools the author drew upon to write his/her novel, what message they were trying to convey and it's always interesting to compare all this with my own personal impressions. I guess it's my background in research showing there. Anyway, I came upon this wonderful conversation between Karen Lord and Nalo Hopkinson that I found fascinating on many levels. It's about an hour long but at some point, while discussing oral tradition, the authors mention Paul Keens-Douglas whom I hadn't previously heard of but whose performances are hilarious (there are tons on youtube if you're curious). Anyway, Karen Lord quotes him as an influence and I could really see how absolutely amazing it would have been had Keens-Douglas narrated the audio edition of the novel. At any rate, I can see why the novel would make a great audio book anyway.Despite the importance of the narrator, Paama's character remains central to the story. Her character could easily have been the fourth of Marie N'Diaye's Three Strong Women. Paama is indeed strong and not because of the Chaos Stick. Her strength and power reside in the fact that she's managed to remain true to herself and maintain her identity despite difficult circumstances. The appearance of the Chaos Stick and the Indigo Lord challenge that of course, but it's because of her inner strength and because she keeps on believing in the importance of choosing one's path, even when one has very limited power, that in the end she turns out to be wiser than a thousand year old supernatural creature.The novel also holds a great many other secondary characters that I'd enjoy learning more about (I believe there was talks of a sequel at some point): the Trickster of course, but also the sisters and Patience. The novel's ending comes almost too soon and I don't want to spoil it but let's just say that when some writers would probably have taken the most evident route and turned the Indigo Lord into Paama's love interest, Karen Lord has other things in mind and it works that much better.Redemption in Indigo is a delightful little gem filled with humor and colorful characters, that weaves in Caribbean and African folklore. You're never quite sure where Karen Lord is taking you but you'll come to trust her grumpy and sarcastic narrator.

  • Lila
    2019-03-06 16:59

    3 1/2 Star. The premise of the story was great but I did not care for the narrators voice. It kept me detached from the characters and the actual story.

  • Lark
    2019-02-26 14:47

    A retelling of a Senegalese folk tale.I am a sucker for fairy tales and old tales retold into new and beautiful stories. I was especially delighted by the idea of an African folk tale, as most of the fairy tale retellings are all of Grimm and that ilk. This is a story told almost as if we are listening to someone telling the story to a crowd of children at her feet, a story born of oral tradition passed on by mouth.I.... did not like it as much as I would have hoped. It was good, but it was not great. Not at all. It was a little too stagnant, a little too distanced. I felt a million miles away from these characters. I did not get to know any of them intimately. Instead, it was almost a recounting of their deeds and actions, rather than their thoughts and souls and desires. I did not think anything particularly stuck out as amazing. But it was a decent read.However, I did highlight a favorite quote in this book:"It must be nice, not to have to eat, or sleep, or get cold and wet," Paama complained, shaking the drizzle off her grey wrap."It must be nice," the djombi parroted in reply," to taste, to dream, to feel the wind and the rain in your face."Three stars. I am not entirely sure I would recommend this to people.

  • Sunil
    2019-03-14 17:40

    Redemption in Indigo begins with an Introduction so frank and direct that for a couple pages I thought it was a preface by Karen Lord herself but, no, actually, it's the beginning of the book and this narrator is simply very self-aware about her storytelling and the reader's storylistening. She's certainly one of the best omniscient narrators I've read.It is in these opening chapters, in which Lord, as this narrator, retells the Senegalese folktale "Ansige Karamba the Glutton," that the narrator shines brightest, with side-splittingly hilarious analyses of characters and direct addresses to the reader, whom she knows may not believe that a spider is talking to men at a bar, DO YOU EVEN TRICKSTER BRO. The tone extends to chapter titles like "Ansige eats lamb and murders a peacock." Ansige is a foolish man, to say the least.The narrator's presence becomes less pronounced when the real story comes into play: the fool's wife, Paama, a renowned cook (the book is full of mouthwatering descriptions) and no-nonsense kind of woman, comes into possession of a Chaos Stick, and the owner of said stick, a djombi (spirit creature), tries to get it back. And so the games begin!Redemption in Indigo boasts an assortment of tricksters, which makes the ensuing proceedings quite entertaining, if, naturally, a bit chaotic, though Lord does well extrapolating elements from the folktale she's riffing on to wrangle it all into a coherent narrative. Things keep happening, and they generally have a point, but it's all very light, and what I think is supposed to be the Big Moment for Paama just sort of...happens. In a way, it maintains that folktale sense, not necessarily a deep and incisive look at these characters—though they do have more depth than your typical folktale—but I was hoping for a little more punch. Despite that, it's a deeply satisfying story, thanks to the narrator, who does her best to make sure the reader is deeply satisfied.

  • Shannon
    2019-03-03 18:01

    When the story opens, Paama has left her gluttonous husband Asinge and returned to the home of her parents. Asinge goes to her village to bring her back, but his self-indulgent actions lead to a series of blunders that leave the people of Paama’s village applauding her for leaving her foolish husband. Unbeknownst to Paama and Asinge, Asinge’s actions are being manipulated by spirits.Meanwhile, the spirit Indigo Lord loses his power, chaos, as punishment for past actions. Indigo Lord becomes upset when other spirits tell him that his power has been given to a human. Indigo Lord wants his power back and sets out to find the person who has received it. After doing sloppy research, Indigo Lord mistakenly concludes that his power was given to Paama’s sister when, in fact, the power has been given to Paama in the form of a Chaos Stick. The situation comes to an anticlimactic plateau, but things remain interesting as Indigo Lord learns that taking back his power is not as simple as taking away the Chaos Stick. So he kidnaps Paama and the journey of him convincing her to return his power begins. During their time together, Paama has a revelation about her husband’s actions that leads her back to him.If you're looking to delve into this genre, this is an easy book to start with. It's a book I'd recommend and I almost want to give it another star, but I included the reason I did not in the full review over on the blog: http://www.readinghaspurpose.blogspot...

  • Cheri
    2019-03-16 16:06

    Really 4.5 stars.I liked this book: a lot. I've been working on expanding the ethnic/cultural/sociological base of my reading, and this book fits in nicely to that scheme. There is something deeply appealing to me about the African-based/flavored/inspired fantasy I've read.Redemption in Indigo is simply lovely. I didn't buy into the initial "narrator addressing the reader" bit at the beginning, as I tend to doubt novels that lean on the narrator as an additional "character." Often it yields distracting commentary that rubs raw spots in my brain. The narrator works fine in this novel, though, and Lord never lets it get out of control. The actual story-telling voice is very nice. Easy to read, fun to read... I found myself searching out moments to read this little book. The negative part of this is that it's a slim novel, so I was done in a couple short days. Boo! I would have liked more!And yet: we have grown accustomed to novels that are bloated, fattened, full of authorly self-aggrandizement and a perceived preciousness of language, which, in the end, dilutes the core of a story. Lord doesn't do that. This is story, and moral, and magic and love and loss... it's realization and redemption and all of that in a neat 188 page package. How much I respect a novel that doesn't pretend that bigger is better!Redemption in Indigo is just right.

  • Zen Cho
    2019-03-23 11:55

    Ahhh, that was SO much fun! I really liked Paama. The main comparator I thought of is Terry Pratchett -- Lord's narrative voice is funny and compassionate in equal parts in a similar way, though less impressed with its own cleverness (and I say this with all due affection for PTerry, who taught me that stories are allowed to be ridiculous and serious at the same time).I liked how everybody gets a chance in this story. The book is clear-eyed about how destructive and absurd humans can be -- and not just humans, either -- and it's not sentimental, but it's very warm.I did see stuff coming from a mile away (Kwame and Paama, and who the babies were -- initially was puzzled by the fact that they were twins, but that was 'cos I'd forgotten about the Trickster). But because it's kind of folktaley in style anyway, the plot twists are meant to be -- not so much predictable as inevitable.Will definitely be seeking out more of Lord's books.

  • James Eckman
    2019-03-08 16:05

    Western fairy tales have been redone so often that if your local library was feeling a bit crazy they could easily create a fair sized western fairy tale section. This one is different, the Senegalese godlets, tricksters and various other spirits are not what you expect and the heroine Paama is strong and moral in a low-keyed fashion, the opposite of some of the bad-ass Cinderellas. One of my favorite minor characters is the giant spider who calls himself the Sultan of Weird but feels that lately humans are surpassing him in weirdness. A fast fun read if your not futzing with computers or other life issues.I think it would make a good YA selection as well, though sometimes I hate that label. There's some YA that is superior to most adult fiction and adult books that speak to all ages, maybe we need an awesome fiction category?