Archive: Haiti Noir 2: The Classics with editor Edwidge Danticat & contributing author Michèle Voltaire Marcelin

Photo Credit:Jocelyn McCalla

Photo Credit: Jocelyn McCalla

To a packed room of eager enthusiasts, Edwidge Danticat introduced her latest editorial work, Haiti Noir 2: The Classics published by Akashic Books as a study of not just the Noir genre, but of a “Noir” people, approaching the collection as it applies to the Haitian people and our culture that is packed with myth, truth, and all the experiences in between. Seeking to use this edition of Haiti Noir to elaborate on the layered concept of Haitian literary “classics,” Edwidge mixed canonic and contemporary voices, controversial and well-known cultural themes to create a dynamic collection of stories.

Danticat read selections from several short stories in the anthology, including a passage from “A Strange Story” by Ida Faubert and “Preface to the Life of a Bureaucrat” by Jacques Roumain. Contributing author & poet Michèle Voltaire Marcelin brought her ever-cool personality to the stage for an anything-but-cool passage from her short story “True Life” which tells a seductive tale of a couple’s infidelity, leaving everyone a little hot under the collar. “I think she melted the mic!” Edwidge exclaimed as she joined Marcelin for the post-reading Q & A.

Watch Edwidge Danticat & Michèle Voltaire Marcelin read from Haiti Noir 2: The Classics

Most of the participant questions revolved around the authors’ processes for capturing their narratives. When asked how they knew when a story was good enough to tell, both authors had similar responses:

“When you have no choice but to tell it”          “When you can’t stop yourself”

-Danticat

-Marcelin

Marcelin described these stories as rarely “pretty,” cutting close to the bone and revealing parts of one’s self that may be painful but must be shared.

Tying these ideas into questions of finding a distinct voice as a Haitian woman while supporting the integrity of a country with so many issues such as Haiti, the authors saw only one answer: The Truth. Remaining conscious of larger issues impacting Haiti while writing lends itself to chasing deeper narratives that capture context and also helps to expand one’s voice.

Very true to the Noir genre, Danticat and Marcelin left us all remembering that the best story is never a straight line.

Thank you again to Akashic Books and the Brooklyn Public Library for collaborating with us on this fantastic event.

This reading and discussion of Haiti Noir 2: The Classics took place on January 16, 2014 at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center.

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