(Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012; paperback reprint edition issued Spring 2013)
Sovereignty. Sugar. Revolution. These are the three axes this book uses to link the works of contemporary women artists from Haiti―a country excluded in contemporary Latin American and Caribbean literary studies―the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. In From Sugar to Revolution: Women’s Visions of Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, Myriam Chancy aims to show that Haiti’s exclusion is grounded in its historical role as a site of ontological defiance. Her premise is that writers Edwidge Danticat, Julia Alvarez, Zoé Valdés, Loida Maritza Pérez, Marilyn Bobes, Achy Obejas, Nancy Morejón, and visual artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons attempt to defy fears of “otherness” by assuming the role of “archaeologists of amnesia.” They seek to elucidate women’s variegated lives within the confining walls of their national identifications―identifications wholly defined as male. They reach beyond the confining limits of national borders to discuss gender, race, sexuality, and class in ways that render possible the linking of all three nations. Nations such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba are still locked in battles over self-determination, but, as Chancy demonstrates, women’s gendered revisionings may open doors to less exclusionary imaginings of social and political realities for Caribbean people in general.
Peepal Tree Press, 2010
**Winner, 2011 Guyana Prize for Literature Caribbean Award, Best Book of Fiction 2010**
** Notice: The author will continue to donate royalties from sales of this work towards Haiti relief funds when readings are organized specifically around raising awareness about Haiti issues. Please contact the author for more information. **
** The cover of LOA is taken from a hand-painted, silk-scarf creation by the collective, Atis Fanm Matenwa, situated in Matenwa, Ile de la Gonave, off the coast of Haiti. To view and order scarves by the collective, go to: http://www.artmatenwa.org/ **
In this first book-length study in English devoted exclusively to Haitian women’s literature, Myriam Chancy finds that Haitian women have their own history, traditions, and stories to tell, tales that they are unwilling to suppress or subordinate to narratives of national autonomy. Issues of race, class, color, caste, nationality, and sexuality are all central to their fiction – as is an urgent sense of the historical place of women between the two U.S. occupations of the country. Their novels interrogate women’s social and political stances in Haiti from an explicitly female point of view, forcefully responding to overt sexual and political violence within the nation’s ambivalent political climate. Through daring and sensitive readings, simultaneously historical, fictional, and autobiographical, Chancy explores this literature, seeking to uncover answers to the current crisis facing these women today, both within their country and in exile.
In exile but finding no refuge, Afro-Caribbean women portray harsh lives
*Outstanding Academic Book Award 1998 from Choice, Journal of the American Library Association
A moving tale of contemporary Haiti dogged by a fascinating history and the fragile lives born of it, this novel tells how the lives of four witnesses of military-ruled Haiti during the terror-filled years of the Duvalier regime of the early 1990s intersect. These vivid characters include Léah Ochún, who rises from the sea like a siren one morning off the coast of Cap Haitien, clothes untouched by water, blue stones wrapped around her neck, eyes blind to light; Carmen, soon to be a mother, who returns to Haiti from Canada as if to the call of the vodou; Alexis, who flees the island in search of a land without strife; and Philippe, who walks the northern hills alert to ancestral voices still haunting its peaks and valleys, his gay identity exploited in tourist trade as he struggles to maintain spiritual dignity and a hold on hope, his body decaying from AIDS. This is ultimately a novel about confronting the failings of the human heart and the triumph of memory over despair.
*Shortlisted for Best First Book, Canada/Caribbean region, for the Commonwealth Prize 2004
Currently out-of-print; please contact the author for permission to copy for instructional/study purposes. Stay tuned for information regarding a new print edition.
This challenging, multi-layered story is told from a womanist perspective through a network of narrative voices encompassing two generations of Haitians, tied together both by blood relations and bloodshed. In addition to the characters’ personal struggles with the harsh realities of postcolonial Haiti, the violent history of the last six centuries of the country, from the brutal years of colonialism and slavery to the chaotic aftermath of the fall of the Baby Doc regime, is also explored. The rhythm of the prose echoes Haitian Créole as this dramatic novel unfolds.