Bain de Lune is an ambitious novel whose narrative spans three generations of two Haitian families.
In the village of Anse Bleu, a long rivalry has opposed the humble Lafleur family against the wealthier Mesidor clan. If hate is a status quo strictly observed by the male members of these clans, women don’t exactly play according to the same rules. The young Olmène Lafleur Dorival will fall for Tertulien Mesidor, a man well into his fifties and their marriage will come out as a malediction and a betrayal.
Lahens excels in narrating this story of love and hate that spans a century: her prose, at once enthralling and musical, bears the inflexion of the Creole language and captures the many hardships her protagonists face, including extreme poverty, natural disasters, and the corruption-ridden Duvallier and Aristide administrations. She vividly brings to life the singularity of Haitian culture, where the living are never completely separate from the dead, where poetry runs in people’s blood, and where the concept of life itself is inseparable from suffering and resilience.
Bain de Lune by Yanick Lahens, a novel, Sabine Wespieser
Ready to Burst tells the story of a young man’s efforts to navigate the challenges of a deeply troubled society. The novel moves fluidly between his experiences and those of his alter ego, opening a window onto the absurd realities of a dictatorship. First published in 1968, Ready to Burst presents a sensitive critique of François Duvalier’s suffocating regime and its consequences for a generation of young people in Haiti. The novel offers an exquisite verbal portrait of life within a specific context of terror, as well as a vivid exploration of love, hope, and the delicate membrane between reality and dream.
Ready to Burst by Frankétienne, a novel, Archipelago Books
In a small village, off the cost of a caraibian island, a young European woman investigates her father’s past and the facts surrounding her family’s myth. The various narratives that she collects all raise an essential question — How shall we use our time on earth? — and make a strong case for the necessity of a brotherhood of men against the voracious appetites of those who believe that they own the world.
La belle amour humaine by Lyonel Trouillot, a novel, Babel/Actes Sud
First published in 1945, Gouverneurs de la rosée details the tumultuous return by Manuel Jan-Josef to Fonds-Rouge, his native village, which has been subjected to drought and conflicts. Fifteen years of exile in Cuba have turned Manuel into a complex and hybrid man. He brings back stunning memories, new convictions, and a solution of his own to help fight the drought. But so much novelty raises suspicion and opposition. A talented observer, Roumain gives a detailed and in-depth portrait of this small community that avoids sounding didactic. In one word, it feels real. Everything in this novel is poised: poetry, humor. ugliness and ethnological observations. This balance is obvious from the title alone: Gouverneurs de la rosée, a magnificent title that seems to describe a quite pathetic authority. But it would be wrong to see any derision in this oxymoron that expresses the grandeur of the one that controls the means of his survival.
Gouverneurs de la rosée by Jacques Roumain, a novel, Zulma