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The World is Moving Around Me
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The World is Moving Around Me
A Memoir of the Haiti Earthquake
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On January 12, 2010, novelist Dany Laferrière had just ordered dinner at a Port-au-Prince restaurant with a friend when the earthquake struck. He survived; some three hundred thousand others did...
On January 12, 2010, novelist Dany Laferrière had just ordered dinner at a Port-au-Prince restaurant with a friend when the earthquake struck. He survived; some three hundred thousand others did...
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  • On January 12, 2010, novelist Dany Laferrière had just ordered dinner at a Port-au-Prince restaurant with a friend when the earthquake struck. He survived; some three hundred thousand others did not. The quake caused widespread destruction and left over one million homeless.

    This moving and revelatory book is an eyewitness account of the quake and its aftermath. In a series of vignettes, Laferrière reveals the shock, rage, and grief experienced by those around him, the acts of heroism he witnessed, and his own sense of survivor guilt. At one point, his nephew, astonished at still being alive, asks his uncle not to write about "this," "this" being too horrible to give up so easily to those who were not there. But as a writer, Laferrière can't make such a promise. Still, the question is raised: to whom does this disaster belong? Who gets to talk and write about it? In this way, this book is not only the chronicle of a natural disaster; it is also a personal meditation about the responsibility and power of the written word in a manner that echoes certain post-Holocaust books.

    Includes a foreword by Michaëlle Jean, UN special envoy to Haiti and the former Governor General of Canada.

    Dany Laferrière was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1953. He is the author of fourteen novels, including Heading South and How to Make Love to a Negro without Getting Tired. His awards include the Prix Médicis and the Governor General's Literary Award. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.

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    A moving eyewitness account of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and its aftermath by the acclaimed Haitian Canadian writer.

About the Author-

  • Dany Laferrière was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1953. He is the author of fourteen novels, including I Am a Japanese Writer, Heading South and the award-winning How to Make Love to a Negro without Getting Tired. Laferrière's awards include the Prix Carbet and the Governor General's Literary Award.

    David Homel was born and raised in Chicago in 1952. He has been a journalist, editor, literary translator, and teacher, and has won numerous awards for translation, including the Governor General’s Award for Literature, Canada’s highest literary honor.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from January 1, 2013
    Keen observation, incisive analysis and passionate engagement mark this author's account of the 2010 earthquake that devastated his native Haiti. Through vignettes that range from a paragraph to a couple of pages, novelist Laferriere (I Am a Japanese Writer, 2011, etc.) delivers a knockout punch through prose favoring matter-of-fact understatement over sentimental histrionics. A literary festival brought him back from French-speaking Canada, where he emigrated to establish himself as a writer, to the homeland where his mother and much of his family still lives. He ordered dinner at a restaurant and then heard what sounded like a machine gun, a train or an explosion. It intensified: "The earth started shaking like a sheet of paper whipped by the wind. The low roar of buildings falling to their knees. They didn't explode; they imploded, trapping people inside their bellies." The author is no journalist, and he engages in none of what would conventionally be called reporting. Instead, he describes what he saw, how it felt and what it meant. For those who survived, the aftershocks continued: natural, personal, political, cultural. Laferriere is particularly sharp on the ambiguous motives and ambivalent effects of humanitarian charity and celebrities who helped keep the world's spotlight on Haiti (and, of course, themselves), until attention turned to the next world calamity. The framing is particularly strong, beginning with vivid detail of the experience itself, culminating in a multileveled meditation on what it means to be Haitian, to be a survivor, to be a writer, to be alive. "We say January 12 here the way they say September 11 in other places," he writes of the cataclysm most vividly experienced at street level, which is where this memoir operates. Nonfiction with the resonance of literary fiction and the impact of real tragedy.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW) "Keen observation, incisive analysis and passionate engagement mark this author's account of the 2010 earthquake that devastated his native Haiti ... Through vignettes that range from a paragraph to a couple of pages, novelist Laferrière delivers a knockout punch through prose favoring matter-of-fact understatement over sentimental histrionics."
  • Slate.com "Laferrière has a lucid plain-style which may remind American readers of the best of Ernest Hemingway, specifically Hemingway's commitment to writing about the actions that produce emotions, rather than about feelings themselves ... The glimpses Laferriere records of people on the devastated streets of Port-au-Prince accrue to give a deeper substance to the idea of Haitian indomitability."
  • ARC magazine "A compelling firsthand account with cleverly crafted imagery and skilfully interwoven narrative strands about a country shook to its bare bones, fighting to defeat the shadow of death ... Just as T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land is made up of seemingly disjointed images that work together to create a whole, so too is Laferrière's memoir. It is this 'heap of broken images' – to borrow Eliot's words – that are held together by the strongest thread of all: culture."
  • National Post "Laferrière has written not only a valuable book but also a necessary one, a slim but potent volume reminding us that the people of Haiti deserve far better than the cards handed to them by fate ... In a just world, this book will excite renewed passion for helping Haiti and also a large audience for Laferrière himself, a talented writer who deserves a wide readership."
  • The Globe and Mail "The World is Moving Around Me is unpretentious, starkly honest and good-humoured. Laferrière, a prize-winning novelist in the francophone literary world, is a masterful writer and his memoir, told in a clear and simple voice beautifully rendered by translator David Homel, is true to his vision of the essential role of culture, 'the only thing that can stand up to the earthquake ... intellectual culture [and] what structures a nation. If we don't want to turn into a victim nation, we have to keep moving. We'll cry later when things are better.' "

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