EAST OF HAITI
A compelling collection of short fiction that adds to the body of literature by and about Dominicans and Haitians
by César Sánchez Beras
English translation by Mark Cutler
Publication Date: September 30, 2023
Format: Trade Paperback
Not yet published
In the title piece, “East of Haiti,” Old Jean Morisseau waits for his son Claude, who he hasn’t seen in ten years, and worries about his grandson Christopher, whose mother—like so many others—crossed the border into the neighboring country and disappeared. As the boy grows, he begins to read his missing father’s diary. And one day, he gathers his courage and leaves his grandfather and their small village to find his dad.
Sánchez Beras paints stirring images of the Haitians and Dominicans who share the island of Hispaniola in this collection of three novellas. Don Victoriano Zaldívar, a landowner and “lord over the lives of many who were dirt poor,” doesn’t let his advanced age interfere with his preference for young girls. He plots to conquer Aurorita, who he acknowledges is still a child, but “has the look of a woman.” Young Albertico Durosier is poor and black, but he learns to juggle his fragmented identity, presenting himself as Dominican in certain circumstances and Haitian in others. On his mother’s deathbed, she confesses his father was a well-to-do white man who took advantage of the black Haitian cleaning girl in his family’s employ.
Delving into the adversities of race, poverty and discrimination, Sánchez Beras’ stories follow ordinary people working ceaselessly toward a better life for themselves and their loved ones. This intriguing addition to Caribbean literature is notable for its setting—the mountains and other local communities without a view of the beach so familiar to tourists—and its glimpse into the issues that lead to so many leaving their home for opportunities elsewhere.