Master of the Crossroads

a novel by

Madison Smartt Bell


Chapter One

New York Times Book Review coverage

now available in Penguin paperback:

French translation:


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Order Master of the Crossroads from Random House Online Catalog

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Click for Fall 2000 Tour Schedule

View Images of Toussaint Louverture

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engraving by Philippoteaux and Dietrich


Read Interview by Jack Stephens for

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more excerpts to appear in

Five Points

Agni Review

New England Review

The Virginia Quarterly Review

Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts

The Idaho Review

see also

Soul In A Bottle

(nonfiction about Haiti)


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Kat Rèv Nan Haiti

a fine press book from

Widgets & Stone

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From Booklist

Bell began his historical trilogy about the slave revolt on Haiti with All Souls' Rising (1995), and now, in an even more dramatic and strongly crafted work, he continues the complex and tragic story of this embattled land, a microcosm of the West's greatest crimes and most stubborn conflicts. This powerfully imagined installment concentrates on Toussaint Louverture, a former slave and healer who became a great military leader and liberator. Bell begins in 1794, three years after the slaves' uprising and the massing of Toussaint's disciplined and loyal army, and continues to spin the interlocking tales of his magnetic characters, both fictional and historical, including Toussaint; Antoine, a French doctor, and Nanon, the mulatto woman he loves; Riau, a former slave and a man of deep spirituality; Claudine, a profoundly repentant slave owner; and Isabelle, an adventurous and generous Creole. Writing masterfully from diverse points of view and switching between the specific and the panoramic, Bell limns the subtleties of body language as deftly as he conjures the ambience of a household, town, or plantation and animates such malevolent forces as the political intrigue among the French, Spanish, and English, and the horrific hatred between blacks and mulattoes that has poisoned Haiti for more than two centuries. Just as practitioners of voodoo believe that the dead, the Invisible Ones, are among us, Bell knows that good and evil dwell side by side, and he balances his portraits of men and women at their demonic worst with scenes of friendship and love that transcend racial divisiveness. And even though this novel, like its predecessor, ends with the grim promise of yet more bloodshed, Bell brings children of many hues into his compelling universe, thus reminding his readers that life, and hope, abide. Donna Seaman
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