Friday, February 22, 2013

Haitian Dictators & Danticat's Krik? Krak!

From yesterday's BBC story "Haiti's 'Baby Doc' Duvalier avoids appearing in court:"
Haiti's former ruler Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier has been ordered to appear in court in Port-au-Prince after failing to attend a hearing. Relatives of some of those allegedly killed or tortured by his militias in the 1970s and 1980s want him charged with crimes against humanity. Mr Duvalier had filed a last-minute appeal to avoid appearing in court. The ex-leader, who returned to Haiti in 2011 after 25 years in French exile, had already missed two hearings. He denies all charges, with his lawyers saying the case should be thrown out.
Want a book about life under Baby Doc? Try Edwidge Danticat's short story collection Krik? Krak! :
Danticat, born under Haitian dictatorship, moved to the U.S. [in the 1980s]. Many of the stories in this moving collection reflect the misery she has observed from afar and leave readers with a deep sadness for her native country. Survivors at sea in a too-small, leaky boat endure any indignity for the chance at escape. Selections about those remaining in Haiti have a dreamlike quality. A woman must watch her mother rot in prison for political crimes. A young father longs so much to fly that he gives his life for a few moments in the air. A prostitute plies her trade while her son sleeps. "New York Day Women" shows what life might be like in the U.S. for immigrants without resources. Through unencumbered prose, the author explores the effects of politics on people and especially the consequences of oppression on women, the themes of which figure into each of these vignettes.
For those of you who prefer classics, you might try Graham Greene's The Comedians, a novel about life under Baby Doc's dictator father Papa Doc:
One of Graham Greene's most chilling and prophetic novels, The Comedians is set in a Haiti ruled by Papa Doc and the Tontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Just as The Quiet American offered a preview of the coming horrors of American involvement in Vietnam, this novel presages the chaos in Haiti.

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