A prolific and leading figure of the local cultural landscape, Alain Gordon-Gentil shares his best artistic picks with Luxury Mauritius. A wonderful journey!
Alain Gordon-Gentil lives in Baie du Tombeau, a small coastal village in the northwest of the island, but his heart still beats for his birthplace, Pamplemousses, not far from Pierre Poivre’s famous Botanical Garden. Located between Port-Louis and Grand Baie, this village has an atmosphere that is imbued with history, and in the refreshing shade afforded by a lush vegetation one can admire the old colonial houses of another time. In the midst of the promotion of his sixth novel (J’attendrais la fin du Monde ‐ édition Julliard) and the editing of the documentary Les enfants de l’exil, the famous Mauritian author, stage director and filmmaker, Alain Gordon-Gentil, unveils his cultural universe for Luxury Mauritius. Fascinating!
In my view, the novel that marks the momentous turning point in contemporary Mauritian literature is À l’autre bout de moi, by Marie-Thérèse Humbert. Sensually written, stripped-down and so true, this novel unleashes volcanic power. Next, I’d mention Voyage au bout de la nuit (Journey to the end of the night), by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, for its might. This way of laying bare our ills with such brilliance testifies of a real genius in the true sense of the word, more so at a time when the word “great” is warranted for all kinds of nonsense.
Paris, without any doubt, for the special place it holds in my heart and for its magic. An enormous rib steak at Le Père Claude just after a roasted bone marrow with kosher salt and a Pauillac 1990… My Goodness! And Accra, the capital of Ghana. A magical and sweet place. I always feel emotional when I find myself in the first African country that chose the way to independence. The pride and dignity of these people are simply unbelievable. When I stand facing the ocean in Accra, I know that I am African.
Frédéric Chopin has composed an opus for piano of absolute emotional depth. Together with Mozart, he touches something deep inside us, whose existence we didn’t even suspect. Writing while listening to Les Nocturnes is a moment of grace. I rank on an equal footing the music of the pianist Bill Evans and of the trumpeter Chet Baker. This music affords a moment of perfection and emotion, two states that are not often associated. One must listen to ‘You must believe in Spring’…
I’d mostly like to talk about one film director: Stanley Kubrick. A work that mercilessly tells us who we are and who we pretend to be. From Full Metal Jacket to Eyes Wide Shut, he has brought us face-to-face with ourselves with an outstanding talent…
My Mauritius; it’s the breakfast I have on Sunday morning around 7.30, a ‘farata’ (Indian flatbread) stuffed with potato curry and chilli ‘achard’ (Mauritian pickles) at the Port-Louis bazar. Then to take a stroll amidst the smell of glowing and fuming incense sticks… In the hallways, rubbing shoulders with the passers-by and the shouting merchants tell the tale of life. This is to me, real life.