Cover image for Chambacu, Black slum
Chambacu, Black slum
Zapata Olivella, Manuel.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Chambacú, corral de negros. English
Publication Information:
Pittsburgh, Pa. : Latin American Literary Review Press, 1989.
General Note:
Translation of: Chambacú, corral de negros.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A masterful translation of a powerful novel set amidst the misery of a mosquito-infested island near Cartagena where a single mother and her family are touched irrevocably by the war between the United States and Korea. Uneducated, indigent, and disunited, the protagonists represent the condition of a countless diaspora of blacks in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Third World.

Author Notes

Manuel Zapata Olivella was a writer and anthropoligist largely credited as being the most significant representative and defender of Afro-Latin literature. He founded journals, taught and lectured widely, and represented Colombia at numerous international colloquia. He is best known as the author of eight sociologically charged novels, many of which have won literary prizes both in Colombia and abroad. Jonathan Tittler is a professor at Rutgers University and the author of El verbo y el mando: Vida y milagros de Gustavo Alvarez Gardeaz#65533;bal , Narrative Irony in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel , Manuel Puig , and Violencia y literatura en Colombia

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

A mother tries frantically to preserve what is left of her family in this grim portrayal of life on a Colombian island. Inhabited by descendants of African slaves, and tied to Cartagena by a flimsy bridge, Chambacu is indeed a ``link in an ancient chain of suffering.'' Maximo, son of matriarch La Cotena, tries to inspire islanders to rebel by instructing them in ``the dialectic of misery,'' but to no avail: he is drafted into the Korean War's ``Colombia battalion.'' There Maximo is tortured and imprisoned for his refusal to fight; his brother Jose, however, signs up in order to avoid arrest for smuggling. Overseas, Jose's ways serve him well--he returns with a motorcycle and a Swedish wife, Inge. Uncomfortable with prosperity, however, he resumes whoring and abandons Inge as his other brothers, boxer Medialuna and fighting-bird breeder Crispulo, wage their own battles for survival. Through it all, La Cotena tries to keep her offspring respectable or, failing that, alive. While this novel's ending is no surprise, Olivella writes with the robust naturalism of Zola. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved