Dominican Republic: Burning Books?


Embarrassing; that’s all I can say. Yesterday, Parole en Archipel published an article entitled « L’écrivain prix Nobel de littérature Mario Vargas Llosa, victime de la pyromanie dominicaine » [Nobel Prize for Literature author Mario Vargas Llosa, victim of Dominican pyromania]. It seems that, after the famed Peruvian writer published an article—“The Pariahs of the Caribbean”—denouncing the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court ruling which denies nationality to offspring of illegal immigrants since 1929, a group of people in Santiago engaged in an angry book-burning spree.  It didn’t help that the Spanish newspaper in which his article appeared, El País, added a swastika to the article, but still. . . Marckenson Jean-Baptiste writes (this is my rough translation from the French; see link to original below):

From the other side of the Pearl of the Antilles, books pay for their authors; not the authors that write their books. This is the case in Santiago, the second largest city of the Dominican Republic, where the books of writer and Nobel Prize in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, was the subject of revenge: burning his books to ashes. This was the response given to Vargas, following his article against the resolution of the Constitutional Court which strips foreigners, especially those of Haitian origin, of their Dominican nationality.

If persecution travels far and wide to swarm over victims from overseas, what future awaits writers that live in the lion’s mouth or close-by, who rebuke the injustices directed towards the weak? Turn off the ink! From this perspective, more out of a collective reaction than a cult of personality, we remember a paragraph from the preface to Renald Luberice, from a book of poetry entitled Orgasme de ma voix [Orgasm of my voice]. The author is the worthy heir to this land of lost poets. Land of lost ancestors, land of hanged ancestors. Land lost in the Caribbean Sea, ancestors and poets lost in the nauseating waves of the triangular trade.

There is not much difference between the death of a being and the ashes of a book. Africans often say that when an old man dies, a library burns down. The German poet himself (Heinrich Heine; 1797-1856) was not far off target when he said: “Where they have burned books, they will end burning human beings.”

[Many thanks to Maritza Stanchich and Sophie Mariñez for bringing this news to our attention.]

See Mario Vargas Llosa’s article here:

For full Parole en Archipel article (in French), see

Also see and


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s