By Rachel Cassagnol

March 8 is International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate women of all races and hues and across professions and lifestyles. Whether we are mothers, politicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses, advocates, Haitian women are pillars of our communities in Haiti and across the Diaspora. To celebrate a few, here are a dozen books by or featuring Haitian-American women that can give you a sense of our greatness. 

The Book of Emma by Marie-Célie Agnant

Confined to a psychiatric hospital following the murder of her young daughter, Emma Bratte refuses to speak any language, but her mother tongue. An interpreter, Flore, helps the psychiatrist evaluate Emma’s fitness to stand trial, and in the process reveals tales “both crazy and too lucid.”

Sheroes of the Haitian Revolution by Bayyinah Bello 

Published in 2019, this book highlights as-yet unknown female warriors of the Haitian Revolution who were strongly active and influential in the fight for freedom.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Anacaona: Golden Flower, Haiti, 1490 by Edwidge Danticat

Another great piece from Edwige Danticat, who relates the life of Queen Anacaona, what she represented to her people in the way she governed them and the consequences it had when Spanish governor of Haiti ordered her execution. Anacaona is only one of nearly 30 works by Danticat worth knowing.

Badass Black Girl: Questions, Quotes, and Affirmations for Teens by M. J. Fievre  

A book of affirmations, acceptance and celebration of identity for Black girls. It relates many accomplishments of fearless black women in various sectors.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay  

Published in 2014, this debut book from the author Roxane Gay explores the perfect life of Mireille and what happens when she is kidnapped in Port-au-Prince. She endures the resentments of her kidnapers, resentments towards who she is, where she came from and her position in society. Will Mireille ever return to the woman she once was?

Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America by Karine Jean-Pierre

Karine Jean-Pierre tells her own story, looking back on her life as a first-generation Haitian-American. And she shares what she’s learned about politics, offering a handbook for anyone who wants to take part, no matter how or where they grew up or how young or old they might be.

My Mother’s House: A novel by Francesca Momplaisir  

Lucien and Marie-Ange call their home La Kay, and it becomes a place where their fellow immigrants can find peace, a good meal and legal help. But as a severely emotionally damaged man emigrating from a country whose evils he knows to one whose evils he doesn’t, Lucien soon falls into his worst habits and impulses, with La Kay as the backdrop for his lasciviousness.

One of the Good Ones by Maika and Maritza Moulite

In their latest novel, the Moulite sisters explore timely themes of social justice, mourning and how a life’s worthiness is deemed. It all begins with the death of teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith, who is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, her devastated sister Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered, according to the publisher. 

Vale of Tears: A Novel from Haiti by Paulette Poujol Oriol

This novel is set in the period around the Second World War. According to the publisher, it’s a channel to explore both what happens to the privileged when their world disintegrates and the survival skills of the poor. Vale of Tears offers a critical reading of the class system and corruption that plague Haiti. 

Clerise of Haiti by Marie-Thérèse Labossière Thomas

In this five-star rated book, author Marie-Thérèse Labossière Thomas focuses on change, class and the socio-political situation of the country.

The Infamous Rosalie by Évelyne Trouillot

“The Rosalie” is the name of the infamous boat that transported slaves across the Atlantic from Africa, in this novel. Lisette knows the stories from her grandmother, godmother, and the other women of her tribe who made the passage and who care for her. The story they won’t tell her is what happened to her aunt, and why. 

Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi

The author, Izi Zoboi, did an awesome work on the update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, It balances class, cultural identity, gentrification, first love all of this in the vibrant city of Brooklyn, specifically in Bushwick starring all characters of color. It’s a must-read.

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