cover image Hadriana in All My Dreams

Hadriana in All My Dreams

Rene Depestre, trans. from the French by Kaiama L. Glover. Akashic, $15.95 ISBN 978-1-61775-533-0

The sights and sounds of Haiti’s vibrant carnival season invigorate this tale of vodou and Haitian culture. Set in the town of Jacmel in 1938, the story centers around Hadriana Siloé, a young French woman who drops dead of an apparent heart attack in the middle of her wedding ceremony. Two days later, when her corpse goes missing from her grave, zombification is suspected, and Hadriana’s parents fear that “the Jacmelians—with their necrophilic imagination—had incorporated their daughter into some sort of fairy tale.” The truth of Hadriana’s fate proves more poignant than horrifying, but in Depestre’s hands, this incident is a touchstone of a culture in which distinctions between the empirical and spiritual are obscured, and whose traditional celebrations and beliefs introduce an element of the mythic into the everyday. Eroticism and humor course through his narrative. Depestre’s intimacy with his subject matter and his familiarity with the people he portrays—the story is set in his hometown, at the time when he was 12 years old—give readers an insider’s look at Jacmelian culture. (May)