Massacre River by Rene Philoctete

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Synopsis

"Between Haiti and the Dominican Republic flows a river filled with ghosts," Edwige Danticat writes in her superb preface to Massacre River: "Over time the river has been the site of several massacres including the one which is the subject of this tour de force by René Philoctete."

In 1937 the power-mad racist Generalissimo Trujillo ordered the slaughter of thousands and thousands of Haitians and, as Philoctete puts it, death set up shop everywhere. At the heart of Massacre River is the loving marriage of the Dominican Pedro and the Haitian Adele in a little town on the Dominican border. On his way to work, Pedro worries that a massacre is in the making; an olive-drab truck packed with armed soldiers rumbles by. And then the church bells begin to ring, and there is the relentless voice on the radio everywhere, urging the slaughter of all the Haitians. Operation Cabezas Haitianas (Haitian Heads) is underway, the soldiers shout, "Perejil! [Parsley!] Perish! Punish!" Haitians try to pronounce "perejil" correctly, but fail, and weep. The town is in an uproar, Adele is ordered to say "perejil" but stammers. And Pedro runs home and searches for his beloved wife, searches and searches " The characters of this book not only inspired the love and outrage of an extraordinary writer like Philoctete," writes Edwige Danticat, "but continue to challenge the meaning of community and humanity in all of us."
 

About Rene Philoctete

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Linda Coverdale has translated over forty books, including works by Roland Barthes, Annie Ernaux, and Patrick Chamoiseau. Her translation of Tahar Ben Jelloun's This Blinding Absence of Light won the 2004 IMPAC International Dublin Literary Award. Acclaimed Haitian poet and scholar René Philoctète was a founder of the group Haiti Litteraire and a co-founder of the Spiraliste literary movement. He was devoted to Haiti and the Kreyol language, and after only a few months in Canada in 1966 during the Duvalier repression, he returned home for good, deciding that he'd rather be murdered at home than live in exile. He was widely respected for his fearless rejection of all forces of oppression. Born during the American occupation, he died in 1995, with American soldiers once again in his homeland.Linda Coverdale has translated over forty books, including works by Roland Barthes, Annie Ernaux, and Patrick Chamoiseau. Her translation of Tahar Ben Jelloun's This Blinding Absence of Light won the 2004 IMPAC International Dublin Literary Award.
 
Published November 17, 2005 by New Directions. 160 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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