Magazine article New Internationalist

The Enigma of the Return

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Enigma of the Return

Article excerpt

The Enigma of the Return by Dany Laferrière, translated by David Homel (Quercus, ISBN 978-0-85705-048-9)

This award-winning novel, published in French in 2009 but now translated into English, is a poetic, melancholic tour de force. Having lived in exile in Montreal for 33 years, the author/narrator returns to Haiti to inform his mother of the death of his father (also in exile, in New York). As far as the story goes, that's about it. But this book is anything but a simple tale. It is a compelling, intense, stark and poignant exploration of living life as an outsider.

The narrator, Windsor Laferrière, is a journalist who flees his country's dictator (Baby Doc) in 1976, just as his father fled Papa Doc a generation earlier. He learns to live with the contradictions and contrasts of two very different existences - past and present, fire and ice, speech and silence - only to discover on his return to Haiti that he is considered a foreigner in the country of his birth. …

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