DRIFTING by Katia D. Ulysse


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A novel in stories that explores the culture clash for immigrants coming to America.

Ulysse re-creates the sometimes-magical, sometimes-brutal world of her homeland, Haiti, in a series of interwoven vignettes that follow friends and relatives from a town called Puits Bain through several generations. The book begins with a story that subtly builds to the horror of the 2010 earthquake as the seemingly safe space of a clinic for children is buried, lost within its own rubble. This is the launching point for people waiting to join relatives in the wonderland that is New York. Stories about Yseult and Flora showcase the trials of old home and new home. Inseparable schoolgirl friends in Haiti, they can't find each other in the vastness of the city after they immigrate with their families at separate times. The loss of familiarity is devastating, a loss of culture. Enide opens a Haitian restaurant in Brooklyn only to discover she can make more money serving hamburgers and fries and becomes the embodiment of the American dream. She torments her son and granddaughter Yseult for interrupting her success. America it seems is just as predatory as the home fields of Puits Bain. Language and place are important here, as is the central factor of family, whether loving or biting and bitter. But for every fine story, another is flat, and the rhythm of the whole is never established. Ulysse does succeed in breathing life into a Haiti we know mostly through news reports of disaster. Humanity is lost and found in these stories.

Ulysse has created a fascinating world of class and cultural distinctions; her stories are engaging though uneven in quality.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61775-240-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2014


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