1. Dany Laferrère’s Poetic Prose Vaults Haitian Tale to Giller Longlist by Joseph Webb

    The simplicity of Dany Laferrière’s style in his latest novel,The Return, allows life in Haiti to shine through. Nominated for the 2011 Giller Prize longlist, and recipient of the Prix Médicis and the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal, The Return is what Laferrière calls the latest installment in his “American autobiography.” 

    The Return doesn’t follow a strict sequence of events — instead, little stories are left to shape the readers emotions and impressions about the journey of coming home.

    The story depicts protagonist Windsor Laferrière’s return to Haiti following the death of his estranged father. After leaving Haiti in 1976 to work as a writer in Montreal, during the “Baby Doc” Duvalier regime, Windsor returns with memories of his youth, the spirit of his father, and openness to Haiti’s present. read the rest HERE.

    You can also read Joseph Webb’s Q&A with Laferrière HERE.

     
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    BOOK REVIEW: Biracial Themes at the Heart of Esi Eduygyan’s Half Blood Blues by Jack Lawson
    Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues is a novel that bleeds the cool confidence of a jazz soloist, while channelling the soul of a classic blues singer. And it has already been shortlisted for both the Scotiabank GIller Prize and the Man Booker Prize.

    Half Blood Blues
     follows the Hot Time Swingers, a prominent group of Afro-American, Jewish, German and Afro-German Jazz musicians, from Berlin to Paris as they try to flee the persecution of Hitler’s reich.

    Edugyan embraces this biracial theme most strongly in Hiero’s tumultuous past. His father was a black French colonial soldier and his mother, a white German-national. Born on the Rhineland, a contested strip of land between France and Germany, Hiero is considered neither a French or German citizen.
    It almost seems too convenient at times that the Swingers are undesirables in the eyes of the German government. But while Half Blood Blues occasionally straddles the realm of plausibility, it never quite teeters into unbelievable territory. READ MORE.

    ( Photo courtesy of TheManBookerPrizes)

     

  3. "I think it might be to try to read like a writer. If something moves you or something disgusts you, if you really love a part of a book or if you hate it, if you get any strong emotions as a reader, reread that part as someone who puts together words and try to figure out what it is that worked or didn’t work for you. Try to stop reading as a reader. Try to start reading as a writer with that critical eye. And then also to just read as much as you can, not just to read what’s expected of you, but to try to read outside the norm. Try to find more obscure writers: don’t just go by the syllabus."
    — Giller Prize Long-list author Patrick deWitt’s advice to prospective writers. Read Jinna Kim’s Q&A with deWitt on CanCulture.com.
     
  4. "I just write books with my vision to draw a picture. I write books on maybe the same area, the same field, from my childhood to now. I have written 21 books and they are on the same level for me and they all talk about the same thing. My journey is something like that: my childhood in Petit Goâve to Port-au-Prince, in Montreal and Miami and other towns in America. I want to follow the places of my life. You know there was a big event in Haiti, the coming of the dictatorship of [Jean-Claude] Duvalier. After that, so many people were in exile. All of my books relate [to] the story of this exile, this voyage. It is my story but it is the story of so many people who had to leave their country and to go outside, and to women who have to live with their memories. And that is why I am talking about my childhood, or my adolescence under the dictator, or the death of my father and the return to Haiti in The Return.”

    - Author Dany Laferrière on his Giller Prize long-listed novel, The Return. Read contributor Joseph Webb’s Q&A with Laferrière HERE. (Photo courtesy of Alex Paillon)