Basses terres

Estelle-Sarah Bulle
All rights available

Foreign sales for her previous title :
US-UK (Farrar Straus & Giroux) ; Spain (Tiempo de papel) ; Japan (Sakuhin-Sha)

In the summer of 1976, when the volcano La Soufrière begins to cough, the horizon darkens in Guadeloupe: families gather, towns empty and destinies intertwine. In this lavish third novel, Estelle-Sarah Bulle examines the hidden effects of the fallout caused by volcanic tremors.

There are many Bévaro’s in Guadeloupe: Elias is the eldest of fourteen brothers and sisters. As head of the clan, he has built a modest hut on Grande Terre and planted three coconut trees nearby, one for each of his children. Daniel, his youngest, has settled on the other side of the Atlantic, in Chateauroux, where he married a white woman. When he returns to the West Indies with his wife and children seventeen years later in 1976, the long-dormant volcano La Soufrière begins to cough. Is it about to erupt? The opinions of volcanologists differ. Those who live nearby question whether to stay or to flee? The Bévaro’s from Basse-Terre don’t hesitate, they take refuge on the other side of the isthmus, in Grande Terre, and huddle into Elias’s somewhat extendable hut. Eucate is determined to remain on the volcanic slopes, come what may. With her granddaughter Anastasie, she awaits, unperturbed, for fate’s final decision. In the intensifying heat, she remembers the time when the banks of La Soufrière was a refuge, where she came to forget about the misdeeds of master Vincent, the Béké whose plantations she worked on. Before her daughter Esperance had left for mainland France. And when Elias’s son, Ange, would pay her mysterious visits in his gleaming DS car. As these lowlands hopelessly empty, she soon becomes the only one left on the volcanic slopes.

Estelle-Sarah Bulle was born in Créteil to a father from Guadeloupe and a mother who grew up on the French-Belgian border. She is the author of acclaimed novels Là où les chiens aboient par la queue (Winner of the Prix Stanislas, the Prix Eugène Dabit and the Prix Carbet) and Les Étoiles les plus filantes (2021). She also writes for young people: Les Fantômes d’Issa (L’école des loisirs, 2020) and L’Embrassée (Caraïbéditions, 2022).

  • Published on janvier 4th, 2024
  • 202 pages


« The author of Where the Dogs Bark through the Tail here offers a great book about the tragedy of lives alienated by the seal of birth. » Livres Hebdo
« A biting and poetic novel rooted in a Guadeloupean land full of ghosts. » La Croix
« Through its evocative and vivid power, her language is enough to make the text rustle, to make it exude fragrances and colors. » Sud Ouest
« Estelle-Sarah Bulle lets us hear the voices of an island on the alert. » L’Humanité
« The writing is magnificent, poetic, tinged with Creole. » Blog Joëlle Books
« This savory novel is an ethnographic document drawn from the source. It pulsates with life. The Creole language brings it its true color. » Le Télégramme