Academic journal article Journal of Haitian Studies

Dany Laferrière: Essays on His Works

Academic journal article Journal of Haitian Studies

Dany Laferrière: Essays on His Works

Article excerpt

Dany Laferrière: Essays on His Works. Edited by Lee Skallerup Bessette. Toronto: Guernica, 2013. ISBN 9781550717419. 208 pp. $20 paperback.

This compact volume is a useful addition to the growing body of work on Dany Laferrière, a corpus that will no doubt continue to grow given the author's election to the Académie Française and the greater critical attention that will likely result from it. Bessette's introduction deals with the question of "how to read" Laferrière, and discusses in particular the recurring question of genre-the familiar problems of classification and the difficulties involved in assigning a particular label to the work. The six chapters that form the body of the volume each make important contributions; for example, there is a useful chapter by Ng'ang'a wa Muchiri on music in Le Goût des jeunes filles, and one by the editor on trauma and intertextuality in Eroshima and Je suis un écrivain japonais.

Two chapters, by Gabrielle Parker and Lucy Brisley, discuss the 2009 work L'Enigme du retour. Parker reads the work as a "puzzle" (72), deftly identifying patterns of references to other works of literature and visual art. She also analyzes thematic patterns related to various returns, not only to places, but also to people, texts, and emotions. Her work frames the death of the father in the novel as a pretext to a complex journey of discovery, the ultimate object of which is the writer himself. Brisley offers a theoretically engaged piece on the role of nostalgia in the work. Drawing on psychoanalytical ideas regarding nostalgia and mourning, Brisley develops a convincing argument that a "successful" return is possible for the migrant, "if one is open to new ways of imagining the often contentious relationship between the lost homeland and the present" (116). …

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