An assignment to write about the iconic American Tabasco sauce led British journalist Richard Holledge to Louisiana where he found more than a story about hot sauce. The Cajun culture that spawned the sauce fascinated him enough to explore the background of the people whose name was twisted by the Spanish from Acadian to Cajun. What Holledge found in his research grew into the novel The Scattered. Holledge joins us in #litchat, Friday, March 8, 2013 to discuss his novel.
The Scattered follows the community and family of Jambo LeBlanc during a time history refers to as The Grand Derangement. Early in the seventeenth century several dozen families fled France for a fresh start in the new world. These French-speaking families settled in the region called Acadia, which is now Nova Scotia, where they flourished for several generations. The British and French had been warring over this area for decades, with the British gaining control in 1710. Concerned that the independent minded, French-speaking Acadians would be a threat to British colonialism of the region, in 1755 Britain dictated a massive expulsion of every Acadian family. The Scattered begins here.
Having traveled through Louisiana on several occasions and spending time in New Orleans in particular, I too am fascinated with the Cajun people and how they have maintained a cultural personality distinct from other ethnic groups in America. Holledge’s fictional retelling of this period sheds tragic light on how and why these families stuck together through smallpox-riddled concentration camps in England, near starvation in France, forced labor in the sugar plantations of Haiti, until they eventually found respite in the mosquito and reptile-infested swamps of southern Louisiana.
Those familiar with the work of Longfellow will recognize within the fabric of The Scattered the tragic epic of Evangeline, the Acadian maiden torn from her beloved Gabriel during their expulsion from Nova Scotia.
Read more about The Scattered in this piece by Holledge.
Richard Holledge is a former newspaper editor and executive with several UK national newspapers including The Times and The Independent. He is a freelance journalist for the Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, International Herald Tribune and the Gulf News, Dubai. He lived in Canada as a boy and he and his wife are regular visitors to New Orleans and Louisiana, the land of Cajun music, po’boys and Tabasco sauce.
Follow Richard Holledge on Twitter: @RichardHolledg1.
Chatscript from conversation with Richard Holledge can be read here.