A Haitian novel about friendship, politics and artistic theory.
Early in the novel, one of the narrators exclaims: “I’m suffocating. I write whatever crosses my mind. The important thing for me is the exorcism. The liberation of something. Of someone. Of myself perhaps,” and while this might be seen as an excuse for self-indulgence and stylistic effusion, the story is actually one of domesticity and passion. The major character here is Raynand, who has a torrid affair with the exotic Solange, but her passion cools more quickly than his. Raynand is left desolate, especially when he discovers Solange in the arms of a new lover, Gaston. Walking the streets aimlessly and compulsively, he collapses and is found by Paulin, who gently helps tend him and ultimately becomes his intimate friend and confidant. Stimulated by the volatile political climate, Paulin is working on a novel, and he shares this work with Raynand. Paulin’s work is experimental and expansive, and he’s never quite sure where it’s going (or even what its title is), but its existence leads him to have aesthetic and philosophical conversations with Raynand about the nature of creativity and the possibilities of artistic form. In fact, part of the narrative is taken over by Paulin’s novel. Raynand is genuinely moved by his friend’s words, though it doesn’t keep him from becoming increasingly isolated, and he resumes his lonely and obsessive walking. Eventually, Paulin is savagely beaten at a political rally, and Raynand is caught and imprisoned for political activism.
Frankétienne writes with a savage beauty about politics, art, and the roles of men and women in a turbulent world.