Academic journal article Journal of Haitian Studies

Tout Bouge Autour De Moi

Academic journal article Journal of Haitian Studies

Tout Bouge Autour De Moi

Article excerpt

Tout bouge autour de moi, by Dany Laferrière. Collection chronique, Montréal: Mémoire d'encrier, 2010. ISBN 978-2-923713-30-4. 160 pp. CND 19.00; EUR 17.00.

Dany Laferrière was in Haiti the day the earthquake of 2010 hit the island, destroying Port-au-Prince, the capital city. By some strange coincidence, Laferrière was also scheduled to submit a final manuscript to his publishers some two weeks later. Instead, Laferrière submitted a book about the earthquake, which is the only reason why we have this book so quickly after the events. Wbile traveling in those few short weeks following the earthquake, Laferrière wrote the book about the subject that had overtaken him: "Ce n'est pas Ie moment de me laisser distraire par autre chose. Sauf qu'un bon sujet déclenche chez nous une énergie proche de la passion physique. Je ne pense plus qu'à ça."

What Laferrière produces instead is a 160-page book that is part report, part therapy, part advice guide. For a writer whose entire oeuvre is basically autobiographical, Tout bouge autour de moi is by far his most personal work yet. Laferrière lets us into a very personal and immediate world of destruction, loss, and, ultimately, hope. This book was clearly written quickly, and it is this immediacy and straightforward realism that is its greatest strength.

Laferrière, who always has a small notepad and pencil in his pocket, was taking notes the entire time. Death and destruction reside alongside life and hope. We move from the hotel where he was staying to the streets, to a place where he had been less than an hour before, now destroyed, probably taking a friend with it. We visit with a very much alive Frankétienne and his wife, whose house was home to a large number of Haitian paintings, a house that was destroyed, taking several generations worth of Haitian art with it. We find his family (mother, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew) all alive and well. His nephew, however, has a unique request for Laferrière: not to write about the earthquake, at least not a novel. Laferrière observes: "C'est l'événement de son époque et non la mienne. La mienne, c'était la dictature. Lui, c'est le séisme. Et il entend bien que ce soit sa sensibilité qui l'évoque."

One of the most powerful and important aspects of this book is the richness of the detail, describing stories and scenes that we never saw in thirty-second news clips, depicting the intensity of emotions and the resourcefulness of a people in a world where chaos and bad news sells and where riots sell even more. …

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