(2003) Spirit of Haiti (City Colours series)

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.