Jamaican and Haitian Reads for Adults!
Let’s take a trip to the Caribbeans where you can lounge and immerse yourself in Jamaican and Haitian culture. Sound like a good time? Check out this book list of 6 books written by Jamaican and Haitian authors!
The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
It is 1937 and Amabelle Désir, a young Haitian woman living in the Dominican Republic, has built herself a life as the servant and companion of the wife of a wealthy colonel. She and Sebastien, a cane worker, are deeply in love and plan to marry. But Amabelle’s world collapses when a wave of genocidal violence, driven by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, leads to the slaughter of Haitian workers. Amabelle and Sebastien are separated, and she desperately flees the tide of violence for a Haiti she barely remembers.
Already acknowledged as a classic, this harrowing story of love and survival—from one of the most important voices of her generation—is an unforgettable memorial to the victims of the Parsley Massacre and a testimony to the power of human memory. (Soho Press Incorporated)
The Return Kindle Edition by Dany LaFerrière
At the age of twenty-three, the narrator hurriedly packed his bags and left behind the stifling heat of Port-au-Prince for the unending winter of Montreal. It was 1976, and Baby Doc Duvalier’s regime had just killed a journalist colleague. But thirty-three years later, after his father’s death, he decides to return him to Baradères, the village where he was born.
How does one return from exile? In Dany’s case, he grounds himself in a hotel room in Port-au-Prince, afraid to see the city he has dreamed of in Montreal. Every time he ventures out of this safety zone, the past and present collide in dizzying ways – the rhythm of the language, the faces of the people, the dust on the roads. How is it that we are undeniably born of a particular place? Why are we always our father’s son?
The Return captures the tension between being from a place but not of it and the subtle ways in which the sights and sounds of memory can seduce. This is at once a novel that is new and original, that melds haiku and narration. A serious book, yet poetic, oneiric, realist. It is the novel of a great writer. (Douglas & McIntyre)
Moonbath by Yanick Lahens, Emily Gogolak (Translator), Russell Banks (Introduction)
Winner of the 2014 Prix Fémina & 2015 French Voices Award
After she is found washed up on shore, Cétoute Olmène Thérèse, bloody and bruised, recalls the circumstances that led her there. Her voice weaves hauntingly in and out of the narrative, as her story intertwines with those of three generations of women in her family, beginning with Olmène, her grandmother.
Olmène, barely sixteen, catches the eye of the cruel and powerful Tertulien Mésidor, despite the generations-long feud between their families which cast her ancestors into poverty. He promises her shoes, dresses, land, and children who will want for nothing…and five months after moving into her new home, she gives birth to a son. As the family struggles through political and economic turmoil, the narrative shifts between the voices of four women, their lives interwoven with magic and fraught equally with hope and despair, leading to Cétoute’s ultimate, tragic fate.
Yanick Lahens was born in Port-au-Prince in 1953 and is one of Haiti’s most prominent authors. She published her first novel in 2000, was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina in 2014 for Moonbath, and is the 2016 winner of a French Voices Award. (Deep Vellum Publishing)
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that’s come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both. (Penguin Publishing Group)
By Love Possessed by Lorna Goodison
Internationally renowned and award-winning poet Lorna Goodison brings us By Love Possessed, her long-anticipated collection of short fiction. Making dazzling use of the Creole patois of Jamaica, Goodison limns the beauty and despair of the human condition and explores the unique power of love to both uplift and destroy. Goodison’s powerfully moving stories explore the pain, the struggle, and the triumph of Jamaicans—particularly women—those still living on their Caribbean island and those who have emigrated elsewhere. By Love Possessed is a rare and beautiful gift from an extraordinary writer who was mentored by the legendary Derek Walcott and who stands with Edwidge Danticat as a brave and breathtaking voice in contemporary literature. (Harper Collins Publisher)
Augustown by Kei Miller
Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything. So when her great-nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear running through her. A teacher has cut off Kaia’s dreadlocks—a violation of the family’s Rastafari beliefs—and this single impulsive action will have ramifications that stretch throughout the entire community. Kaia’s story brings back memories from Ma Taffy’s youth, including the legend of the flying preacherman and his ties to the history of Jamaican oppression and resistance—all of which will reverberate forward to the present and change Augustown forever.
Vividly bringing to life Jamaica in the 1980s, Augustown follows one family’s struggle to rise above the brutal vicissitudes of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth. (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
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