cover image A Wedding in Haiti

A Wedding in Haiti

Julia Alvarez. Algonquin, $19.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61620-130-2

In this quirky, familial account of a dotty road trip she and her husband made to attend the Haitian wedding of one of her coffee-farm workers, novelist Alvarez (Saving the World) offers a moving homage to the Haitian people. Although living in Vermont, Alvarez and her husband, Bill, owned a coffee farm in the mountains of her native Dominican Republic and hired Haitians, like the young man Piti, to care for it while they visited back and forth from the U.S. Making good on their soon-regretted promise to attend Piti’s wedding, suddenly scheduled for August 20, 2009, the couple rearranged their plans and return to the Dominican Republic to make the long, perilous road trip across the border to what might as well be a faraway country, even though Haiti shares the small island. Along with a guide and other helpers, their pickup truck packed with supplies, the team set off via nearly impassable northern roads to reach the northwest Haitian town of Moustique. The trip involved encounters with Haitians that forced a deepening of understanding between the two parties—relations between the neighboring countries have always been tense, Haitian workers discriminated against in the Dominican Republic, and suspicions raw—while the wedding among people of rich piety and startling poverty was jarring and affecting. Nearly a year later, after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti, Alvarez resolved to return to Haiti with Piti and his homesick new bride: Alvarez’s account sounds an urgent need for a humanitarian reckoning between the haves and have-nots. (Apr.)