New Book—“Lavil: Life, Love and Death in Port-au-Prince”


Peter Orner (for Guernica, a magazine of global arts and politics) introduces new book Lavil: Life, Love and Death in Port-au-Prince, a Voice of Witness project edited by Peter Orner and Evan Lyon with a foreword by Edwidge Danticat. The book, which features oral histories on life, death, and survival, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, will be available tomorrow (May 23, 2017) from Verso Books. Orner writes:

Five years ago Dr. Evan Lyon, a physician who has worked in Haiti since 1996, and I began to conduct interviews with residents of the city of Port-au-Prince. We set out with considerable help from Laura Scott and Jean Pierre Marseille. The project started with a simple notion: What’s life like on the streets of Haiti’s largest city since the cataclysmic earthquake of January 12, 2010? There are number of good books about Haiti, but too many of them, it seemed to us, interpreted life in “the poorest country in the western hemisphere” through the lens of an outsider. We wanted to create a book that, so much as possible, might give a reader an unmitigated view of the struggle to survive–and endure–in, yes, one of the poorest but also, one of the most vibrant cities in our hemisphere.

[. . .] The day we met [Denise Dorvil] she was sleeping in a makeshift tent on the street. A woman who has been faced with almost impossible choices, Denise sugarcoats nothing. There’s a great deal of pain, humiliation, and abusive treatment by men in her story, and yet there is also tenacity, mental toughness, and ultimately a hard-won optimism. [. . .]

For full, original review, see

[Image above: Cover detail from Lavil: Life, Love and Death in Port-au-Prince.]

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