lundi 23 mai 2011

Summer Reading 2011

The summer after I finished graduate school I sent around a message to my friends and family members about forming a summer reading list.  Throughout graduate school I regularly passed over  reading "leisure" books as my reading became increasingly linked to my research focus.  I am going back to that tradition with a twist this summer, especially because I will be on leave with a fellowship for the entire academic year to focus on my writing and research.  So instead of devoting a good portion of the summer to preparing for my fall classes, I will catch up on books I have been meaning to read over the past several months, completing my book manuscript, and beginning the research for my second project on performance theory and Haitian cultural production.  Below are some of the books on my summer reading list.

1.  The Haitian Creole Language:  History, Structure, Use and Education, eds. Carole Berotte Joseph and Arthur K. Spears (2011)
How I wish this book had been out when I taught my fall classes on Haiti!   It is a multilingual,  thorough, well written and exceedingly useful volume for the history and instruction of Kreyol dealing with issues that range from linguistic to literary and featuring many prominent scholars.

2.  Tout bouge autour de moi by Dany Laferrière (2010)
This book falls into the newly formed category of “post-earthquake writing,"  much like Haiti parmi les vivants and others, the book is primarily Laferrière's testimony from the day of the earthquake and in its aftermath.  

3.  The Loneliness of Angels by Myriam Chancy (2010)
Myriam Chancy is one of my favorite writers living  in the diaspora.  You can always expect complex, multifaceted and complicated characters in her novels and the Loneliness of Angels, which was published last year promises to be no different.  The narrative centers on a Syrian-Haitian woman living in Port-au-Prince but, true to Chancy’s styles it is told in multiple voices in a non-linear fashion.    

4.  Haiti noir,  ed. Edwidge Danticat  (2010)
I snatched up a copy of this wonderful collection when it first came out several months ago but have not gotten to it yet.  Edited by Edwidge Danticat, the collection boasts a number of great authors both known (Evelyne Trouillot, Gary Victor) and relatively new voices as well.  I especially like that it is a part of the Akashic Books' "Noir" series which takes on the genre in different contexts. 

5.   Beyond the Slave Narrative:  Politics, Sex and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution by Deborah Jenson (2011)
A professor of Romance Studies at Duke University, Jenson is one of the foremost US academics working on Haitian history, literature and cultural studies  The breadth of her work goes from the 18th century through the present.  This book on the literary legacies of the Haitian Revolution, will be a great complement to studies that tend to focus on the Revolution from philosophical, political, or historic perspectives.
6.  Le prince noir de Lillian Russell by Kettly Mars and Leslie Péan (2011)
This new novel by Mars goes into the 19th century to explore a forbidden love between a vaudeville queen and a Haitian naval officer.  I am looking forward to seeing Mars apply her writing prowess to another century as well as a different setting!

7.  Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer (2011)
Farmer, who has been working in Haiti for decades, argues that the earthquake was an “unnatural disaster” because of the pre-existing issues that made it so catastrophic in scope.  Like many of the others that have emerged over the past two years, the book also includes testimonies by people who were there during the earthquake and in its aftermath.

8.  Geographies of the Haitian Diaspora, ed.  Régine Ostine Jackson (2011)
Régine Ostine Jackson is a sociologist from Emory University who has been doing work on the Haitian diaspora in the social sciences.  Her volume offers an interdisciplinary perspective on issues relevant to the formation of Haitian diasporic communities.   The book includes scholars such as anthropologist Gina Athena Ulysse and historian Chantalle Verna.

What about you?  What are you looking forward to reading this summer?  What are some new (or old) books by and about Haitians that top your list of favorites?


6 commentaires:

  1. Great list, Régine! You've made my own to-read list even longer than it already is. I recently read Failles by Yanick Lahens, which is a great mix of post-earthquake commentary, reflections on Haitian society, a peek into the author's writing process and some fictive passages.
    This summer, I'm going to delve into Refonder Haiti. I started it a few months ago, but it's dense and long, if also fascinating.

  2. Am about to start Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid. I have heard her talk about the book but am finally reading it b/c a group of folks want to have a book club discussion of it.

  3. Ooo, Alice that book has been on my list too, let me know what you think. Also, the folks over at The Public Archive have posted another summer list for Reading Haiti that fits nicely with what we have here. Take a look at

  4. Wow! That's a great list and I will for sure be adding the last book to mine since I am writing an op/ed on the sense of entitlement of some in the Haitian dyaspora. Thanks for sharing your list!

  5. As for Haiti Noir, you can read my review of it here:

  6. I read and enjoyed your review, Sha. It was interesting to see your take on some of the stories, since we didn't love the same ones. That's what so great about that type of collection -- something for everyone!