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Fiction Map of the World - Mauritius

by Travelbag on 04 December 2014, 10:12AM

The island of Mauritius is a wonderful place, one which offers almost every kind of traveller the chance to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. It is the kind of place whose very name conjures up images of golden sands, impeccably clear waters and classy seafood joints, all lit up and sparkling beneath a waning sun. 

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Essential Holiday Reading

The staggering beauty of Mauritius has inspired countless poems and novels. It is easy to see why as soon as you set foot on its fine white sand, or dip a toe into one of its turquoise lagoons. As with a lot of post-colonial islands, there are turbulent episodes in its history and many Mauritian authors have explored its past in literary form. If you are looking for a dark and mysterious novel, which will keep you riveted all holiday long, try The Interrogation by J.M Le Clézio. This is a real thriller of a novel, which follows Adam Pollo, a man marginalised by society, because he is suffering from severe amnesia and can no longer remember his identity. 

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Notable Mauritian Books

One of the most famous books set in Mauritius has to be Paul et Virginie, which was published in 1787, and written by French author Bernardin de Saint Pierre. It tells the tragic tale of the love and loss of a young couple, during the French colonial period. It is the perfect book for anybody looking to get lost in an epic romance, whilst unwinding on holiday. For a deeper read, pick up historical epic The Last Brother, which was written by Nathacha Appanah, and follows a nine year old boy as the impact of WWII begins to reach his previously safe and seemingly pure island home. It is a novel which sheds light, for the first time, on this unexplored corner of World War II history.

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Notable Mauritian Authors

The many different faces of Mauritius are drawn upon by its contemporary novelists in not just French and English, but in Creole too. In fact, the natural lyricism of the languages spoken here lends itself beautifully to great works of literature. There are some very strong and bold authors from Mauritius, such as Lindsey Collen. Her second novel was banned in Mauritius within hours of its publication, but later went on to win the Commonwealth Prize for Best Novel in Africa. It is a dark and politically courageous work. She wrote a more recent novel, in 2004, which explores the notion of self-discovery through the conflicts of an island home steeped in history.      

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Notable Mauritian Films

The filmmaker David Constantin is well known for his work on the island. He is one of the most famous of its directors, and has made a number of movies in and around Mauritius. In 2009, he released Made in Mauritius, a short film which follows the trials and tribulations of Bissoon – a retired peasant, with a problem. The issues is that, for the first time in 20 years, the fuse for his radio has blown. In a darkly comic turn of events, we see the local shopkeeper forced to explain to Bissoon that the world has changed, and that he might have to buy a new radio from China. He also made a documentary, called Diego the Forbidden, which explores the tyrannical practices of the British during the 1960s.

Essential Holiday Listening

For anybody looking to fill their iPod up with blissful summer sounds, just before they jet off to Mauritius, there is the legendary Kaya. This Mauritian musician is well known on the island, for his unique brand of sega and reggae – or ‘seggae,’ as he preferred to call it. This combination of two of the most popular musical genres on the island made Kaya an instant hit, and his trademark blend of soul, blues and reggae is the perfect addition to an afternoon at the beach. Whilst this young musician would eventually meet a tragic end, his music has left a lasting legacy, and you should make it the soundtrack to your holiday.  

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Notable Mauritian Musicians

There is a unique genre of protest music in Mauritius called santé engagé, which deals with themes of political and social oppression through the medium of music. It generally adopts a traditional Mauritian sega sound, but occasionally demonstrates more modern Indian and Western influences too. The Grup Latanier are one of the most famous collectives to sing santé engagé on the island. They have been making music, under various different names and with various different line ups, for almost half a century. These protest songs are bold, brave and lively – they denounce poverty, political injustice, and very often the wrongs done by the British authorities, during occupation. To lighten the mood, there is Jean Alain Roussel, a star composer and record producer who has worked with everybody from Cat Stevens to Sting and Bob Marley.  

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