Raphaël Confiant’s latest novel, Les Ténèbres extérieures

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Martinican novelist Raphaël Confiant’s latest novel, Les Ténèbres extérieures (The Outer Shadows) has been published in France by Éditions Écriture. Les Ténèbres extérieures (the title comes from a phrase in Alfred Jarry’s La Dragonne), tells the story of François Duvalier’s tyrannical regime in Haiti, which lasted from 1957 to his death in 1971. Through Duvalier and his collaborators, Confiant brings us into the arcane world of the bloody regime and its human costs. Duvalier, Confiant reminds us, kept two items on his desk, a revolver and the skull of a well-known opponent, an image that conjures the nefarious character of his  régime, which was marked by corruption and state-sponsored terrorism through the Tonton Macoutes, the president-for-life’s private militia. It is believed that more than 30,000 Haitians died at the regime’s hands during his 14-year rule. In the novel, resistance to the regime is embodied in two writers, Esteban Jacques and Mark Estienne, and in the Haitian people, whose survival has a touch of the miraculous. The book is, as a reviewer argued, “a meditation on the corrupting power and madness inherent in absolute power.”

For reviews (in French) go to http://www.afrik.com/article16600.html  and http://www.potomitan.info/confiant/tenebres.php

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