CATHEDRAL OF THE AUGUST HEAT by Pierre Clitandre

CATHEDRAL OF THE AUGUST HEAT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Clitandre is a Haitian poet and editor sent into exile in 1980; this first novel (written in the late 70's) is a dreamlike prayer for Haitian liberation. The main character in this political novel is, in effect, the repressed Haitian people. They're represented here by John, a bus driver; his woman, Passiona, who runs a small inn; and a number of other laborers, laundrywomen, and even intellectuals. Throughout the novel, John gradually becomes aware of his need to find freedom from the poverty and filth and ignorance in which the Duvaliers have kept his people--from the stench of dead bodies left behind lo rot by the Tontons Macoutres. As he personally finds love with Passiona (after a bad marriage to the whorish Madeleine), he plots revolt, even after his only son Raphael is shot down during a protest. At novel's close, he and an aroused crowd march on Assumption Thursday--a day which also commemorates Toussaint L'Ouverture's 1791 rebellion--into the square in front of the Cathedral: ""Our Truth is freedom. Our children are starving. . .Our sacrifice is great."" And they are blessed with a miraculous shower of roses filling from the sky. In all, an interesting mixture of Haitian folklore and modern revolutionary consciousness, although tinged unfortunately with a by-now tired surrealism. Still, compelling and forceful.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1987
Publisher: Readers International--dist. by Persea