By Rachel Cassagnol | firstname.lastname@example.org
From the riches of Haitian literature, we have compiled twelve Haitian novels worth adding to your spring/summer reading collection this year. The authors present life in Haiti through the decades, using their signature style to explore matters of class, race and belief systems in our society. Read on to see which ones belong on your shelf or e-reader.
When Manuel returns home from Cuba to his parents is to find his community in a drought. He wants to change the situation. Despite old feuds and resistance to change, he is determined to improve the lives of people in the village.
In this debut work, Alexis shares the poignant tale of a worker caught up in the ‘’Dominican Vesper,” the 1937 massacre of Haitian workers by the Dominican Republic Army. The book traces his journey from Haiti, which he leaves after losing everything, to work as a sugarcane worker and being caught up in the massacre.
Set during the Haitian Revolution period, this novel examines race, class, love and loss experienced by two sisters, one of whom enters a society generally inaccessible to persons of color.
From the publisher: Dézafi tells the tale of a plantation run and worked by zombies for the financial benefit of the living owner. The owner’s daughter falls in love with a zombie and facilitates his transformation back into fully human form, leading to a rebellion that challenges the oppressive imbalance that had robbed the workers of their spirit. The walking dead and bloody cockfights (the “dézafi” of the title) serve as cultural metaphors for Haitian existence.
Published in 1984, the author portrays the assimilation and adaptation of Haitians into American life in human, social and economic terms. A very informative book!
From the publisher: Set against a backdrop of magic and eroticism, and recounted with delirious humor, the novel raises universal questions about race and sexuality. The reader comes away enchanted by the marvelous reality of Haiti’s Vodou culture and convinced of Depestre’s lusty claim that all beings―even the undead―have a right to happiness and true love.
Life in the provincial village of Petit-Goâve is far from ordinary as it unfolds in the eyes of a young boy whose grandmother’s veranda is the center of the village.
The author describes a day-to-day life with men and women trying to survive under a dictatorship, a young man navigating life post-regime change between a mother with self-imposed restrictions and aunt with strong Vodou beliefs.
In search of a better life, Paulie and her family leave Haiti―the only home that Paulie has ever known. Paulie wants to stay and fight―to change Haiti into a better place to live. She wants to talk to the reporters and bravely tell the truth. But the macoutes come with their guns and knives to stop them. And they do something so terrible that Paulie must face the truth: before the soldiers come back, they must all leave tonight, by sea.
The author emphasizes how spirituality is important in Caribbean life throughout multiple backgrounds and life experiences. Whether from a middle-class life of Port-au-Prince, working-class French Canada, expatriate Paris, the quest for spirituality is a connection shared by us all.
From the publisher, This is a lyrically vivid meditative journey that is unapologetic in its determination to name, embrace and reclaim a revolutionary Blackness that has been historically stigmatized and denied.
From the publisher: In this powerful memoir, we enter the lives of a family who are both descendants of European aristocrats and African slaves. We meet Phipps’s godfather, the rebel leader Gusl Villedrouin, and we relive her experiences with Vodou priests and spirits, a cold-eyed pope, a charismatic Muslim astrologer, Catholic monks and exorcists, American Mormon bishops, scholars and missionaries. Through it all, we are stirred by the antithetical feel of entitlement and destitution, barbarism and lyricism, infinity and insanity.