By Onz Chery
In recent years, a new crop of Haitian-Americans writers has sprung onto the writing scene. Writers like Francesca Momplaisir, Will Loiseau and sisters Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite. Meanwhile, reigning author Edwidge Danticat continues to be prolific, winning two national awards in 2020 for her newest novels, and Roxane Gay’s profile continues to rise for her books and her commentary.
This opens up more variety than ever for Haitian-American bibliophiles and anyone who loves the culture. And what better time to discover new books or revisit old favorites than during the holiday season.
Whether you add to your online wishlist or click buy yourself, here are 10 books by Haitian-American authors to add to your bookshelf, in the order they were published.
My Mother’s House
My Mother’s House is the literary thriller of a Haitian family that moves to South Ozone Park in Queens, New York. Published in 2020, Momplaisir’s debut explores abuse, emotional illness, colorism and other themes. Momplaisir muffles the darkness of the book with a poetic-style similar to Toni Morrison’s.
Everything Inside: Stories
Everything Inside: Stories is Danticat’s latest book. It’s a collection of eight short stories that was published in 2019. It won the 2020 Story Prize Award. Most of the stories revolve around the Haitian diaspora experience. For instance in “In the Old Days” a Haitian-American New York-based teacher flies to Miami to meet her ill father for the first time.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is the debut novel of co-authors Maritza and Maika Moulite. The 2019 young adult fiction tells the story of a high schooler Alaine Beauparlant, who visits her parent’s homeland, Haiti, for the first time. She falls in love with the country, discovers a family curse and meets an attractive intern.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine won the Parent’s Choice Foundation Recommendation Award in 2020 and was among Barnes and Noble’s 20 best young adult novels debut.
SHEROES of the Haitian Revolution
SHEROES of the Haitian Revolution is a 2019 book, written by Bayyinah Bello, that highlights ten of the countless women who played a major role in Haiti’s fight for independence in 1804 like Suzanne Simon, Toussaint Louverture’s wife and Marie Louise, the first and only queen Haiti had.
In the 2017 young adult fictional book, American Street, Ibi Zoboi tells the story of Fabiola Toussaint, a girl who migrates to the United States. Toussaint thought she was going to have a good life after relocating but her mother gets detained by U.S. immigration and she has to live with her annoying cousins. It was selected as Kirkus Best Book of the Year, was a New York Times Notable Book, won School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, among other awards.
Did You Know? Over One Hundred Facts about Haiti and Her Children
Marjorie Charlot, a librarian, gathers a collection of fascinating but hidden vignettes on Haiti’s art, culture, civil rights and people in a 2015 book titled Did You Know? Over One Hundred Facts about Haiti and Her Children.
Quake: Horror and Hope in Haiti
Will Loiseau tells his own account of the 2010 earthquake in his debut novel, Quake: Horror and Hope in Haiti. Loiseau self-published the book in 2014. It’s one of the very few first-hand written accounts of the 2010 earthquake.
Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story
Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story is the autobiography of mega musician Wyclef Jean. Published in 2012, Jean writes about his childhood in Haiti, his road to the music industry, his run for Haiti’s presidency and other major segments of his life.
Ayiti is New York Times contributing op-ed writer Roxane Gay’s debut short stories collection about migration and Haitian-American life. Kirkus Reviews describes the 2011 book as “sharp-elbowed flash fiction.”
Haiti Noir, edited by Danticat, is a 2010 collection of dark tales written by 17 different authors, 15 of them are Haitian-Americans. Josaphat-Robert Large’s story in the book, “Rosana” depicts kidnapping, a crime that is currently rampant in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Gary Victor’s chapter “The Finger” touches on burglary, another crime that has tormented scores of Haitians this year. Three other stories are on the earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010.
Did we miss a good one? We’ll release more lists like this in the coming year, so email Onz@haitiantimes.com with your recommendation(s). Happy holidays and happy reading!