cover image Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle

Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle

Gina Athena Ulysse. Wesleyan Univ., $27.95 trade paper (408p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7545-6

Wesleyan anthropology professor Ulysse (Downtown Ladies) mixes memoir, commentary on her relationship with Haiti, and analysis of the dominant narrative surrounding the country in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. The author addresses the shock she and other Haitians living abroad felt upon learning about the earthquake, as well as their greater privilege and visibility compared to the island's residents. The book, divided into three sections ("Responding to the Call," "Reassessing My Response," and "A Spiritual Imperative"), is at its best in the second part, which features several profiles of Haitian feminists and Ulysse's feelings about identifying as one. The use of repetition in her writing can be jarring, but it helps to emphasize the corruption and lack of infrastructure in Haiti and the negligence of the NGOs and the international community. It is particularly effective in depictions of the children who were labeled orphans and taken out of the country after the quake. Ulysse is most concerned with changing what she identifies as a dominant view of Haitians as backwards people incapable of helping themselves or handling hardship. Readers interested in a broader and sympathetic perspective on Haiti will enjoy Ulysse's work toward jumpstarting a new narrative. The book also includes translations of the text into Krey%C3%B2l and French by, respectively, Nadeve Menard and Evelynne Trouillot. (May)