New Book: Clerise of Haiti

Marie-Thérèse Labossière Thomas’ Clerise of Haiti (2010) has been described as “a novel of timeless Haitian reality.” The author explains, “One late-summer morning in 1985, I took my then three-year-old daughter and her friend to our neighborhood playground. As I watched the girls play, something in the breeze, the trees, the very feel of the air, reminded me of my childhood. Thus began Clerise of Haiti, a story about three generations of Haitian women from Les Cayes, the city of my birth and cradle of my family.”

Description: A young domestic worker devoted to her prominent urban employers in Les Cayes, Haiti, Clerise progressively renounces the traditional values of her rural background. When she later marries and opens a small business, class conflicts and divided loyalties develop amid the terror of the Duvalier regime, and she is ultimately caught in the escalation of violence.

Clerise of Haiti is a story of three generations of Haitian women, and covers a thirty year span ending in the late 1970s. Full of humor and resilience, Clerise’s unique perspective into the upper classes and the world of the poor explores the complexities of life in a provincial town and highlights the socioeconomic and political forces at play in Haiti.

Marie-Thérèse Labossière Thomas was born in Les Cayes, Haiti, and migrated to the United States as a young adult. As an educator and writer, she conducted multicultural teacher training through local school systems and universities; designed and implemented courses in Creole/English literacy for adults; and produced and hosted Kafou, an educational television program in English, Creole, and French, in conjunction with the DC Public Schools television channel. That program included series on Haitian history and African liberation struggles in the Americas, entitled Perspective from a Small Island and A Tradition of Freedom.  

Her articles on Haitian political and social issues have appeared on several newspapers and internet sites, including Haiti Observateur, Haiti-en-Marche, Le Nouvelliste, Alterpresse,,, as well as in Kiskeya, a community newsletter that she published for four years in the Washington Metropolitan Area. She also authored Nou Di, We Say, Nous Disons, a trilingual survival skills manual used in conjunction with educational programs.

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