cover image The Wedding at Port-Au-Prince

The Wedding at Port-Au-Prince

Hans Christoph Buch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $17.95 (259pp) ISBN 978-0-15-195598-5

The experiences of the author's grandfather, a German pharmacist and botanist who emigrated to Haiti and married a black woman, form the core of this rich and surprising novel. A prize-winning journalist and fiction writer, Buch fuses world history with family memoir and dream fantasies born of Caribbean magic to create a brilliantly hued ""tangled skein'' of a story. The account of Napoleon and the betrayed revolutionary hero Toussaint l'Ouverture issues from the jaws of the crocodilian cayman with the ``Krick? Krack!'' refrain of the African storyteller. Embassy and press dispatches document, somewhat lengthily, the escalation of a street squabble into an international incident, when German gunboats sail into Haiti's harbor and the U.S. steps in. The most seductiveand harrowingportions of the novel center on the pharmacist and his family: his first wife undergoes a cure by a voodoo priestess; a Mormon brother tries to destroy the local rites; certain ``cafe-au-lait'' offspring suffer Nazi persecution. (October 20)