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Posted by on Jan 2, 2019 in Haiti News & History, Happening in Haiti

Haitian Novelists Reveal the Nuances of Haitian Culture and History

Since I’m always trying to learn more about the Haitian people and their culture (so as to better understand the community in which we do ministry), I often search out new sources of information. Recently, I came across a blog post written by James Ellsmoor, a contributor to Forbes. In it, he recommended 8 Haitian novels which shed light on Haitian culture, as understood by Haiti’s own native authors. Fortunately for me (and you!), these novels have been translated from their original language into English for all English-speakers to enjoy.

The Citadelle Laferrière was built in the beginning of the 19th century by one of the leaders of Haiti’s slave revolution. (Photo Credit: Joe’s Trippin Blogspot)

Mr. Ellsmoor’s post begins with the following:

Haiti is the birthplace of a rich literary heritage that deserves more attention. Often painted in mainstream media as a country plagued by difficulties, Haitian entrepreneurs, artists and innovators are rewriting that narrative. The struggles that Haiti has faced do not overshadow its rich culture and history or the vibrant spirit of its people. Haitian literature reveals a more complete story of a nation, one that focuses on the beauty and resiliency of the island’s landscape and citizens. Reading the works of Haitian authors opens a window into this Caribbean nation’s vibrant culture and tumultuous history.

Here is a list of the novels reviewed in the Forbes post:

  • Savage Seasons, Kettly Mars (2010)
  • Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy, Marie Vieux-Chauvet (1968)
  • Masters of the Dew, Jacques Roumain (1941)
  • Create Dangerously, The Immigrant Artist at Work, Edwidge Danticat (2010)
  • Nan Dòmi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou, Mimerose Beaubrun (2013)
  • General Sun, My Brother, Jacques Stephen Alexis (1999)
  • American Street, Ibi Zoboi (2017)
  • Massacre River, René Philoctète (1989)

Mr. Ellsmore concluded his post with the following:

All of these literary works give an insight into the experiences, perspectives and concerns of Haiti and its diaspora. These authors are among a wider group of individuals who are using their ideas, talents and voices to deconstruct outside narratives of the Haitian experience and rewrite it in their own words.

Thank you, Mr. Ellsmore, for compiling a list of notable novels written by Haitians for Haitians…and for the world.

Note: At the time of this posting, all of the above-mentioned books are available for purchase on