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Moonbath

Moonbath

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By Yanick Lahens

Translated from the French by Emily Gogolak

Finalist for the 2018 CLMP Firecracker Award

An award-winning, lyrically written, beautifully haunting saga of a Haitian family's fight against a curse spanning four generations.

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Paperback: 9781941920565

eBook: 9781941920572

Description

Winner of the 2014 Prix Fémina & 2015 French Voices Award

After she is found washed up on shore, Cétoute Olmène Thérèse, bloody and bruised, recalls the circumstances that led her there. Her voice weaves hauntingly in and out of the narrative, as her story intertwines with those of three generations of women in her family, beginning with Olmène, her grandmother.

Olmène, barely sixteen, catches the eye of the cruel and powerful Tertulien Mésidor, despite the generations-long feud between their families which cast her ancestors into poverty. He promises her shoes, dresses, land, and children who will want for nothing…and five months after moving into her new home, she gives birth to a son. As the family struggles through political and economic turmoil, the narrative shifts between the voices of four women, their lives interwoven with magic and fraught equally with hope and despair, leading to Cétoute’s ultimate, tragic fate.

Yanick Lahens was born in Port-au-Prince in 1953 and is one of Haiti’s most prominent authors. She published her first novel in 2000, was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina in 2014 for Moonbath, and is the 2016 winner of a French Voices Award.

Reviews

Finalist for the 2018 CLMP Firecracker Award

Winner of the 2014 Prix Fémina & 2015 French Voices Award

“A remarkable accomplishment.” Asymptote

“Yanick Lahens adeptly dipped her pen nib in tears to write Moonbath. She brandished her writing instrument with dexterity, creating Cétoute as a metaphor symbolizing both the pain and the promise of Haiti.” —Lanie Tankard, The Woven Tale Press

“In the Haitian tradition of the rural novel […] Yanick Lahens’ Moonbath establishes itself by its grand and lucid beauty.” Le Point

“Lahens’s ambitious fresco of twentieth-century Haiti through the eyes of peasants depicts the first generation with Romain-like incision.” —Robert H. McCormick Jr, World Literature Today

“Lahens is the most important living female Haitian author in French.” —Christiane Makward

“A novel of violent beauty.” Le Monde

“[Lahens] describes her country with a forceful beauty — the destruction that befell it, political opportunism, families torn apart, and the spellbinding words of Haitian farmers who solely rely on subterranean powers.” Donyapress

“One of the finest voices of Haitian contemporary literature.” L’Ob’s

“Everything is there, the content, powerful, and the style, poetic.” Les Echos

“The novel’s mythic atmosphere is enhanced by Lahens’ meditations on personified nature, and Emily Gogolak’s translation preserves a bare and moving voice throughout.” The Arkansas International

“Power and corruption are ever present, and their pressures—be they sexual or economic or both—are often impossible to reckon with or escape. Though what’s most surprising is the sense that one has waded fully into the world these characters inhabit, a world so alive that I sometimes forgot I was reading a book at all. I’m reminded of first reading Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, a book that similarly transported me clean out of my self and into some other world beyond.” —Christian Kiefer, The Paris Review

“An invigorating and necessary investigation of tradition, politics, loss, and history.” —Zeena Yasmine Fuleihan, Ploughshares

“On every reread of this multigenerational Haitian novel I find more complexity and beauty in its pages.” —Cecilia Weddell, Associate Editor of  Harvard Review Online

Biographical Note

Yanick Lahens was born in Port-au-Prince in 1953. After attending school and university in France, she returned to Haiti., where she taught literature at the university in Port-au-Prince and worked for the Ministry of Culture. Her first novel was published in 2000, and she won the prestigious Prix Femina for Moonbath in 2014. 

Emily Gogolak is a journalist focusing on migration, gender, and the US-Mexico border. A former editorial staffer at The New Yorker and a James Reston Reporting Fellow at the New York Times, she now lives in Texas. A graduate of Brown University in Comparative Literature, she is also a literary translator. Her translation of Moonbath won a 2015 French Voices Award.