Category: Haiti

Maryse Condé: En attendant la montée des eaux (Waiting for the Waters to Rise)

The latest addition to my website is Maryse Condé‘s En attendant la montée des eaux (Waiting for the Waters to Rise). We follow the story of Babakar, a doctor, son of a Malian father and Guadeloupean mother. He is born in Mali, educated in Montreal, returns to Africa (a fictitious country, a neighbour of Mali) where he experiences civil war, the loss of his wife, imprisonment and lots of violence. He flees to Guadeloupe, living a fairly solitary life but (illegally) adopts a baby girl whose Haitian mother has just died in childbirth and whose partner, Movar, is committed to finding the baby’s roots. So off they go to Haiti where life is even grimmer than in Africa and everyone – Babakar, Movar, the baby’s family, various political leaders and others – are caught up in violence, corruption, hurricanes and earthquakes. It is a grim tale but Condé tells it well and we cannot help but pity the innocent caught up in all the mayhem.

Jacques Roumain: Gouverneurs de la rosée (Masters of the Dew)


The latest addition to my website is Jacques Roumain‘s Gouverneurs de la rosée (Masters of the Dew). While not the first Haitian novel on my website, it is the first written in French. Moreover, it is a considered a classic of Caribbean literature. It tells the story of Manuel, a Haitian man who has been absent from his country for fifteen years, working on sugar plantations in Cuba. When he returns, he finds two things have changed. There has been a serious dispute over land sharing, resulting in armed conflict and death and with the two extended families still at loggerheads. Secondly, there has been an extended drought, so much so that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the villagers to grow their crops. One or two have started leaving to start a new life elsewhere. Manuel, as a more or less outsider, makes it his task to find a new source of water and to bring the two warring families together, so that the water can be efficiently and equitably delivered to the village. He tries to do this with the help of Annaïse, a woman from the family opposed to his, but he has opposition not only from Gervilen, a man from the same family, who is in love with Annaïse, but also from the police chief, who wants to take the land for himself, by lending money to the villagers at usurious rates and then taking the land when they cannot repay. While Roumain was a communist and he does preach the idea of solidarity as the best way forward for the working man and woman, this is not a communist novel. Rather it is a first-class novel about the struggle to survive and live a good life.

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