cover image Children of Heroes

Children of Heroes

Lyonel Trouillot, , trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale. . Univ. of Nebraska, $40 (161pp) ISBN 978-0-8032-9459-2

In this sad tale from Haitian novelist Trouillot (Street of Lost Footsteps ), siblings Colin and Mariéla, slum children of Port-au-Prince, live in fear of their violent father, Corazón—until the day they beat him to death to protect their mother, Josephine. In short chapters, each one long paragraph in length, Trouillot channels the desperate and sometimes disconnected, floating feelings of young, needy Colin as he and Mariéla, the elder at 16, flee the scene of the crime. Much of the dread of the novel is in watching Josephine, in the flashbacks Colin describes, descend into a human punching bag, and in hearing some of Corazón's backstory: his failed boxing sojourn in the Dominican Republic; his doleful return to Port-au-Prince to work as a mechanic. Humiliation at the garage leads to further terror at home, the one place in the benighted slum where Corazón can feel like a man—a fact the two children dimly perceive. Trouillot writes with his heart on his sleeve (“we're all barely alive,” Colin exclaims), and his unabashed empathy for plucky Colin and brave, sexy Mariéla recalls elements of Dickens. (May)