Read The World — Hadriana In All My Dreams — René Depestre (Haiti)
Blurb from goodreads.com, please scroll down for my review.
“One-of-a-kind…[A] ribald, free-wheeling magical-realist novel, first published in 1988 and newly, engagingly translated by Glover…An icon of Haitian literature serves up a hotblooded, rib-ticking, warmhearted melange of ghost story, cultural inquiry, folk art, and veritable l’amour.”
-Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
“You’ve never read about a zombie like Hadriana. Transformed into the walking dead on her wedding day, Hadriana becomes part of popular legend, one imbued with magic, eroticism, and even humor.”
“You do not need to believe in zombies or Vodou to be carried away by this story-a metaphor for all forms of dispossession. . . . Rene Depestre has gone beyond nostalgia to write a sumptuous love story.”
- Le Monde
With a foreword by Edwidge Danticat. Translated from the French by Kaiama L. Glover.
Hadriana in All My Dreams, winner of the prestigious Prix Renaudot, takes place primarily during Carnival in 1938 in the Haitian village of Jacmel. A beautiful young French woman, Hadriana, is about to marry a Haitian boy from a prominent family. But on the morning of the wedding, Hadriana drinks a mysterious potion and collapses at the altar. Transformed into a zombie, her wedding becomes her funeral. She is buried by the town, revived by an evil sorcerer, and then disappears into popular legend.
Set against a backdrop of magic and eroticism, and recounted with delirious humor, the novel raises universal questions about race and sexuality. The reader comes away enchanted by the marvelous reality of Haiti’s Vodou culture and convinced of Depestre’s lusty claim that all beings-even the undead ones-have a right to happiness and true love.
From the introduction by Edwidge Danticat:
Despestre offers us the kind of tale we rarely get in the hundreds of zombie stories featuring Haitians, stories set both inside and outside of Haiti. In Hadriana in All My Dreams we get both langaj -the secret language of Haitian Vodou-as well as the type of descriptive, elegiac, erotic, and satirical language, and the artistic license needed to create this most nuanced and powerful novel.
“I died on the night of the most beautiful day of my life.”
First of all a huge shoutout to Jacaranda books who donated this book.
As I attempt to open my mind about different books, especially genres and writing styles, I choose Hadriana in All My Dreams by Rene Depestre from Haiti, (a big thanks to Jacaranda Books for gifting me this book) and oh my gosh, this was just so unique and different and so very enjoyable. Zombies!!! and lascivious butterflies!!! But this has nothing to do with zombies Walking Dead style… this is zombies Haiti style, they don’t eat people there.
Written in 1988 with a 1938 onwards setting it such a good book. So what is a zombie, Haiti style, This description is from the book itself “According to Uncle Ferdinand, a zombie-man, woman, or child-is a person whose metabolism has been slowed down under the effects of some organic toxin, to the point of giving all appearances of death: general muscular hypotonia, stiffened limbs, imperceptible pulse, absence of breath and ocular reflexes, lowered core temperature, paleness, and failure of the mirror test. But despite these outward signs of death, the zombie actually retains the use of his or her mental faculties. Clinically deceased, interred and buried publicly, he or she is raised from the grave by a witch doctor in the hours following the burial and made to labor in a field (a zombie garden) or in an urban workshop (a zombie factory). “
According to the author, Edwidge Danticat, who wrote the forward mentions “one must surrender to this story while not being too easily offended or outraged”
It is not horror, it is wonderfully written in lyrical prose, with long detailed descriptions and makes you feel you are in the novel itself, and I think my favourite part was the description of the curse at the beginning of the book and as there are different perspectives, Hadriana’s perspective was the one I enjoyed the most. But the butterfly curse, and the carnival details were also high up there.
Recommended for readers interested in Haiti voodoo culture and at only 160 pages I would have liked a bit more.
I am giving this book 5 stars because I liked this book alot.
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The next country we are visiting is Lebanon. See you in the next country.
Originally published at http://readinginecuador.wordpress.com on February 28, 2022.