The colour of Dawn by Yanick Lahens

the colour of dawn

The colour of Dawn by Yanick Lahens

Haitian fiction

Original title –  La Couleur de l’aube

Translator – Alison Layland

Source – review copy

You better run You better run and run and run
You better run You better run
You better run to the City of Refuge
You better run You better run
You better run to the City of Refuge

You stand before your maker
In a state of shame
because your robes are covered in mud
While your kneel at the feet
Of a woman of the street
The gutters will run with blood
They will run with blood!

I thought this Nick Cave lyric caught the journey of the girls so well .source

 

 

Well I have only read one other book from Haiti on the blog ,that is the Alphabet of the night by Jean Euphele-Milche ,but that was over four years ago and I had always intend to try another from book from Haiti ,so when this dropped through the letter box from Seren with another book from their Seren discoveries series ,i was pleased as it also ties nicely into Women in translation month as Yanick Lahens is a female writer ,born in Haiti ,she left to study in France at the Sorbonne ,she return to Haiti where she teaches at the university and worked on projects for a foundation that helps the young people of Haiti get on with their lives amid the violence that sometimes surround in their everyday lives  ,like in this book .

All night my eyes peered into the shadows .All night my ears strained to hear the crackling of gunfire in the distance – something you always want to imagine distant ,very distant .Until that day when death comes ,bleeding to our door .Untill the day it splatters our walls like the others ,I am waiting

Waiting for their brother in the opening lines a reflection on their everyday life .

The colour of dawn is a story of siblings ,a brother  Fignolé a young man who is both a musician and an out spoken voice of his generation ,his two sister Joyeuse and Angelique one with a child that has found god ,the other is just discovering her self as a women  .Are worried when their brother disappears .So the two young sister set off through the city ,through their eyes as they hunt their brother we see the city as both a place when people know one another but also a much darker violent side that is just below the surface .Fignolé sings about the rebel cause ,he has spoken to foreign journalists ,has this landed him in trouble ,the sister need to find out and only have one day to do so .

I’ve been worried about Fignolé for too long , not because he smokes joints ,not at all ,but because of what these joints could lead him to do .I worry myself sick because of his music ,because of his rebelliousness .Because of everything that gets all mixed up and makes too much sense .The music won’t tear down walls ,Fignolé.

His music worries them ,why hasn’t he come home .

The story is told by the sister ,with frequent flashbacks on their past .Although they tell the story another main character is the city itself Port-au-Prince that comes to life of the pages .Yanick works with the young people of this city you feel the three siblings make up three faces of Modern Haitian youth ,one fighting for his freedom against the poverty of the city ,another finding god through a local priest and the last just discovering sex and maybe on a path but she is now just focused on her brother .I was reminded of films like city of god ,in parts of this book as the girls move through the city and see the darker sides it remind me the ghetto’s in that film ,also the was Caicedo novel I review Liveforever ,also about a young women ,also a journey through a city like this book .The book is one of the hidden gems that a month like Women in translation is their to uncover .

Have you read a book from Haiti

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MarinaSofia
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 17:50:00

    I haven’t read a book from Haiti but I have a salsa teacher from Haiti and the stories he tells us are a blend of lyrical nostalgia and harsh darkness. Would like to read this but am afraid I may find it too upsetting.

    Reply

  2. hastanton
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 21:14:24

    Dany Laferriere is a Haitian writer worth having a look at …I have read q a few of his books in French but they have been translated into Eng

    Reply

  3. Tony Messenger
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 22:26:56

    Another for the TBR pile Stu. I’m yet to read a Haitian novel, but your review makes me think thus might be it (love the Nick cave reference)

    Reply

  4. WordsAndPeace
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 23:13:15

    for me, the big representative of Haiti is definitely Edwidge Danticat. I have read Breath, Eyes, Memory only, but she has written a lot

    Reply

  5. Claire 'Word by Word'
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 18:16:47

    A great review and some excellent recommendations.

    Reply

  6. 1streading
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 18:36:02

    This sounds like an interesting insight into a country I know little about – which is obviously one of the great things about literature in translation. Thanks for drawing attention to it.

    Reply

  7. Seren Books
    Aug 21, 2014 @ 09:12:20

    Reblogged this on serenbooks.

    Reply

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