If you’ve been following Restavek Freedom for a while, you know we have a deep love for Haiti. We love traveling to Haiti. We love learning about Haiti’s culture and history. We love contributing to the communities and economy of Haiti. We love building relationships with the people of Haiti.
We could go on and on about how awesome the country and people of Haiti are, and we are not alone. There are countless other organizations and people who share with us in our passion for this country. In fact, there are people who care so much for the country of Haiti that they actually ‘wrote the book on it.’
Whether the authors of these books had the desire to preserve the culture that has been formed in Haiti, or felt led to share the stories of people who have built their lives around giving Haiti access to healthcare, or were compelled to shed light on tumultuous times in Haiti’s history, they each had something in common: A passion and burden for the country and people of Haiti.
Here are four books about Haiti, written by people who love it as much as we do.
1. The Rainy Season by Amy Wilentz
In The Rainy Season, Amy Wilentz uses personal stories and her own journeys in Haiti to describe the changing political, physical, and socioeconomic landscapes in the country. The Rainy Season was written after the fall of Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, under whose presidency hundreds of thousands of Haitians were tortured, killed, or chose to flee the country to escape his regime. Wilentz’s firsthand account may provide new insight and information on Haiti that many outsiders have yet to discover.
2. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
In Mountains Beyond Mountains, author Tracy Kidder describes the life of American physician Paul Farmer and his work to fight tuberculosis in developing countries, especially in Haiti. Kidder met Farmer on a flight back to the U.S. from Haiti, where she learned about his story and his humanitarian efforts to provide healthcare to impoverished, rural areas. Kidder loved the doctor’s story so much, she felt compelled to write a biography on his life and efforts.
3. The Comedians by Graham Greene
The Comedians is a fictional story that takes place when Haiti was under the leadership of dictator François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, father of ‘Baby Doc.’ Greene communicates the story of political oppression from Duvalier and his secret police, known as the Tonton Macoute. Although the main characters and protagonist in The Comedians are works of fiction, the stories of torture and terrorism the book describes are an all-too-real part of Haiti’s history. The Comedians has also been adapted into a feature film, released just one year after the novel was published.
4. Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go: A Novel of Haiti by Laura Rose Wagner
When a massive earthquake strikes Haiti, Magdalie Jean-Baptiste and her cousin, Nadine, are left without their mother or their home to protect them. The girls, both sixteen years old, have no choice but to live with their uncle in a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince. Hold Tightfollows the journey of these young women as they navigate life after such an intense natural disaster. Wagner’s hope is that her portrayal of these fictional teenagers will show their dedication to reaping more out of life than living in constant despair, as was true for so many Haitians who lived through the devastating earthquake of 2010.
● Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War by Mark Danner.
● Toussaint Louverture By Madison Smartt Bell.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and of course we had to add some honorable mentions. There are just too many wonderful books to choose from. If you have a chance, be sure to add some or all of these books to your reading list.