Books by Dany Laferrière

NONFICTION
Released: Jan. 15, 2013

"Nonfiction with the resonance of literary fiction and the impact of real tragedy."
Keen observation, incisive analysis and passionate engagement mark this author's account of the 2010 earthquake that devastated his native Haiti. Read full book review >
DINING WITH THE DICTATOR by Dany Laferrière
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 1, 1994

This nostalgic look at a weekend in Haiti will satisfy anyone obsessed with the sexual politics of teenage girls, but it only skims the surface of its deeper subject, a boy's rite of passage. Laferriäre (How to Make Love to a Negro, not reviewed) begins his novel with a sort of apology: ``Excuse me for saying it here, but only women have counted for me.'' In this obviously autobiographical portrait, a 39-year-old Miami writer gets a phone call from an old friend that recalls 25-year-old memories of his hometown, Port-au-Prince. Laferriäre presents the story in the form of a film, divided into scenes, about his protagonist's friendship with a ruffian named GÇgÇ, who quickly transforms his buddy from an exemplary son into a delinquent who hangs out in the red-light district. After attracting unwanted attention from a local ``shark'' (hoodlum), the narrator goes into hiding at a neighbor's house—which also happens to contain six nubile nymphettes. He eyeballs Choupette, who sleeps with a married man named Papa; Pasqualine, who likes to parade around half-dressed; Marie-Michäle, who's in her second year of medical school and complains about her friends being bitches; Marie-Flore, who places the narrator's hand between her legs yelling, ``My vagina says, corruption!''; Marie-Erna, who breaks into uncontrollable sobs every time she laughs; and Miki, the only one with any class. After two days of blissful chaos, he discovers he's not wanted at all and returns to his mother's home a changed man. (See also the review in this issue of Laferriäre's nonfiction work, Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex?, p. 1336.) Voyeurism only goes so far. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Dec. 1, 1994

A follow-up to the controversial novel How to Make Love to a Negro (not reviewed), and a hard look at race, sex, class, and fame in America. When ``an influential East Coast magazine'' commissioned a long article from Laferriäre, he took it as an opportunity to crisscross America. This assemblage of field notes from his travels covers such diverse subjects as his return to the bar where he hung out as a struggling writer; the Nigerian taxi driver who criticizes his work as a betrayal of his race (he replies that defending his people ``doesn't make for good writing'' and all he cares about is ``fall, decadence, frustration, bitterness, the bile that keeps us alive''); the beautiful blonde who insists that life with her African lover involves feelings as well as sex; the young black who complains that he gives too much press to white women and cajoles him to write about her next. Laferriäre also takes a moment to fill us in on the diverse reactions to How to Make Love to a Negro (one woman threw a glass of wine in his face; another had the title tattooed on her body) and his impressions of everyone from Miles Davis to Ice Cube, who argues that blacks are still slaves while Laferriäre believes that they have created contemporary America together with whites. If this sounds like a series of snapshots, even the author admits that it is: ``American reality...is more cinema than novel, more jump cut than dissolve, scenes that run over each other and don't follow any logical sequence...This book is no exception.'' (See also the review in this issue of Laferriäre's novel, Dining with the Dictator, p. 1295.) The strange mix of humor, honesty, impertinence, and self-importance may satisfy Laferriäre's dedicated fans, but most readers will find it about as meaningful as a one-night stand. Read full book review >