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August 7, 2021

4

#French Jean Roumain (Haiti)

by N@ncy
  • Author: Jacques Roumain (1907-1945)
  • Genre:  novel (pg 210)
  • Title:  Gouverneurs de la rosée
  • Published:  1944
  • Trivia: On 18 August 1945  3 days after returning from Cuba
  • Jacques Roumain dies at the age of 37 years old.
  • Cause of death….unknown but it is whispered
  • …that he was poisoned by the powers that be.
  • #French
  • #SummerInOtherLanguages

 

  1. If book is on Edwidge Danticat’s top 10 list…time to read it!
  2. Gouverneurs de la rosée by Haitian writer Jacques Roumain.
  3. They say it’s a masterpiece!

 

Quick scan:

  1. The novel centers on Manuel, a Haitian peasant forced to find work
  2. at a U.S. sugar plantation. 
  3. Returning to Haiti, Manuel tried to i
  4. instill in his fellow peasants
  5. a sense of their role modern capitalism.
  6. They need only realize their own collective power
  7. to end their exploitation.
  8. Subplot:
  9. …Caribbean version of Romeo and Juliet
  10. …Manuel and Annaīse.

 

Conclusion:

  1. This book is difficult to review.
  2. Weak point: pace
  3. Roumain opens the book with a lyrical snapshot
  4. of the flora and fauna of Haiti.
  5. Beautiful as it is….this continues in each chapter.
  6. I know more names for hillocks, shrubs, slopes, thistles
  7. …wood pigeons, pebbles, mango trees in French than is needed!
  8. Strong point: sense of place
  9. I’m sure this nostalgic look at Haiti had a purpose
  10. ….it was to help people who have left this Caribbean island
  11. …return home even if it is just in a book.
  12. Weak point: conflict
  13. A reader needs some action to push the story along.
  14. After 54% of the book we finally see a
  15. “forbidden” love story beginning
  16. ….and a quest that the main character intends to complete.
  17. Strong point: social commentary
  18. Jacques Roumain was a political activist.
  19. His participation in the resistance movement against the
  20. United States’ occupation, and most notably,
  21. his creation of the Haitian Communist Party.
  22. He was arrested and finally exiled
  23. Roumain laid bare many problems facing Haiti:
  24. deforestation, drought,
  25. tribalism (people are overly loyal to their own group)
  26. resource control by the elite class
  27. feeling of resignation in one’s fate
  28. …encouraged by religion and voodoo.

 

Last thoughts:

  • This is not a masterpiece that would sweep you off your feet
  • but a gentle, simple story about the resilience of a proud Haitian village.

 

  1. Sadly this book written in 1944 is visionary.
  2. Haiti has less than 1% of its original primary forest and is
  3. therefore among the most deforested countries in the world.
  4. In 1923 60% of the island was forests.
  5. Haiti’s literacy rate of about 61%.
  6. That is well below the 90% average literacy rate for
  7. Latin American and Caribbean countries.
  8. 2019: corruption, foreign mercenaries
  9. Two former Navy SEALs, a former Blackwater employee, and two Serbian mercenaries
  10. were tasked with protecting the former head of the National Lottery.
  11. He intended to transfer US$80 million from a PetroCaribe bank account
  12. to a bank account solely controlled by President Jovenel Moïse
  13. 2021: coup, assassination of the President Moïse.

 

 

 

Read more from French, French Liiterature
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 7 2021

    Beautiful cover!

    Like

    Reply
  2. Aug 7 2021

    Ha, yes I did. I need to read something from a Haitian author so may give this one a go (I’m trying to work my way through, or at least sample, books and other forms of popular culture from everywhere in the world). This sounds intriguing but all the endless description could be off putting, especially if I’m reading it in French (have French degree but largely unused for 20+ years!).

    Like

    Reply
    • Aug 7 2021

      It is slow going but once I got through all the flora and fauna…my reading speed improved. It is not a difficult book to read in French…and is always available in English “Masters of the Dew” !

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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