New Book: The Return by Dany Laferrière

Dano LeBlanc reviews Dany Laferrière’s new book, The Return, for Canada’s Telegraph-Journal.

You know a book is good when you are reading it and the urge to write hits you. The Return is such a book.

Undeniably readable, I feared reading The Return at first glance, realizing it was a novel written as a poem. Strangely enough, this made the novel more enjoyable. It even made me envious of the style (why didn’t I think of that?).

Laferrière’s book is a purposeful contemplation on the concept of exile and father/son relations, and of course the search for identity (it is CanLit, after all).

The writer plays himself flashing back and forward from childhood to the present day, and from Haiti to Montreal. His journey is painted with vivid descriptions of cold weather (Canada) and hot (Haiti).

The style flips back and forth from straight narrative poem to prose to dialogue sequences that are laid out in dramaturgical form. David Homel’s translation from the French is refreshingly pure, Laferrière’s voice is not lost: “I’ve started to write again the way / some people start smoking. / Without admitting it to anyone.”

This is as much a book about writing (or not writing) as much as any of the other themes, which could explain my sudden need to express myself after reading it. What makes The Return so captivating is the use of language when he describes Montreal and Haiti, the differences and the similarities. His feelings of alienation for each geography changes with what he sees. How could it not? s

For the original review go to

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