Primitive People

3.33 avg rating
( 160 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060934699: Primitive People

What are these barbaric rituals that pass for social and family life? Who are these fearsome creatures who linger in decaying mansions and at glittery malls, trendy weddings and dinner parties? These are the questions that trouble Simone, a beautiful, smart young Haitian woman. She has fled the chaotic violence of Port-au-Prince only to find herself in a world no less brutal or bizarre -- a seemingly civilized landscape where dead sheep swing from trees, lightbulbs are ceremonially buried, fur-clad mothers carve terrifying goddesses out of pumice...and where learning to lie is the principal rite of passage into adulthood.

The primitive people of this darkly satiric novel are not, as one might expect, the backward denizens of some savage isle, but the wealthy inhabitants of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York.

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About the Author:

Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director's Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Prose's seventh novel (Bigfoot Dreams, 1986, etc.) inspires many a giggle as it relates the odd and fascinating adventures of a Haitian au pair in an eccentric upper-class Hudson Valley household--social satire at its slyest and best. Shy, beautiful Simone of Port-au-Prince had no choice but to leave Haiti when she did--not only had the government fallen, but, more devastatingly, Simone's artist lover had dumped her for her best friend and Simone couldn't face the humiliation. Quitting her job as chief assistant to the US cultural attach‚, Simone buys a fake green card and an illegal US marriage certificate, flies to New York, and winds up a few days later in the very bohemian household of Rosemary Porter. Rosemary, a wiry-haired sculptor of fertility objects, self-obsessed mother of two morbid children, and estranged, middle-aged wife of wealthy Geoffrey Porter of an influential Hudson Valley family, takes to Simone instantly, no questions asked--giving her a tour of Geoffrey's crumbling, chaotic mansion (from which they might be evicted at any moment) and introducing her to young George and Maisie (``All you have to do is make sure the kids don't kill each other...and cheer them up! I don't care how. Lift their little spirits somehow!''). Not surprisingly, Simone soon finds herself identifying more with her shell-shocked charges than with their wildly irrational elders. She huddles with George and Maisie around the Porters' massive kitchen table, wolfing down red beans, rice, and fried plantains while fending off casual references to ``primitive'' Haiti and trying to make sense of a world in which philandering fathers, dithering mothers, double-crossing best friends, suburban witches, and the homicidal Count next door hold the fate of innocents in their unsteady hands. As always, Prose's wit sparkles. Another winner by a writer who has hit her stride. -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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