Haitian writer Dany Laferrière’s new book, The World is Moving Around Me, will be published on January 12, 2013, the third anniversary of the disastrous earthquake. The book offers a moving series of vignettes that kaleidoscope from the personal (watching as his elderly mother quietly soldiers on, Laferrière fears her “scaffolding will collapse”) to the political (pointed advice to relief agencies on the “energy of money”). The book also includes a Foreword by The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, former Governor-General of Canada and Special Envoy for Haiti for UNESCO.
Description: On January 12, 2010, novelist Dany Laferrière had just ordered dinner at a Port-au-Prince restaurant when the earthquake struck. He survived; some 300,000 others did not. The quake caused widespread destruction and left over 1 million homeless; it also revealed flaws in the impoverished nation’s government, social services, and infrastructure that will take a generation from which to recover.
This is a moving and revelatory eyewitness account of the quake and its aftermath. In a series of vignettes, Laferrière reveals the shock, rage, and grief experienced by those around him, and the acts of heroism and humanity he witnessed. In this regard, his is a concise and perceptive addition to the important canon of disaster reportage.
And yet Laferrière is a novelist, not a journalist, and his writing bears the weight of survivor’s guilt. In one recollection, Laferrière’s nephew, astonished at still being alive, asks his uncle not to write about “this;” “this” or “the thing” being too horrible to name, let alone give up so easily to those who were not there. But Laferrière cannot make such a promise. Still, his own act of writing raises questions: to whom does this disaster belong? Who gets to talk and write about it? The World is Moving Around Me is not only a chronicle of one of the most devastating natural disasters of our time, but also a personal meditation on the responsibility and power of the written word, of bearing witness.
Dany Laferrière (Haiti, 1953) is the author of 14 novels, including the award-winning How to Make Love to a Negro without Getting Tired and I am a Japanese Writer. He is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including France’s Prix Carbet des Lycéens and the Prix Médicis, and Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award. His novel, The Return, was just long-listed for the 2012 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
David Homel, Laferrière’s translator from the French original, has worked on nearly all of Laferrière’s prior novels. He is a Governor General Literary Award-winning translator and writer. His most recent books include the translation of The Last Genet: A Writer in Revolt (Arsenal Pulp) and the novel Midway (Cormorant).
[Many thanks to Jennifer Abel Kovitz, Director of 45th Parallel Communications, for bringing this item to our attention.]
To read an excerpt of The World is Moving Around Me, press here