Writing on the Fault Line

BookWriting on the Fault Line

Writing on the Fault Line

Haitian Literature and the Earthquake of 2010

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 35


December 31st, 2014



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What are the effects of a catastrophic earthquake on a society, its culture and politics? Which of these effects are temporary, and which endure? Are the various effects immediately discernible, or do they manifest themselves over time? What roles do artists, and writers in particular have in witnessing, bearing testimony to, and gauging the effects of natural disasters? What is the worth of literature in a time of disaster? These are the fundamental questions addressed in this book, which examines the case of the Haitian earthquake of 12 January 2010, a uniquely destructive event in the recent history of cataclysmic disasters, in Haiti and the broader world. The book argues that Haitian literature since 2010 has played a primary role in recording, bearing testimony to, and engaging with the social and psychological effects of the disaster. It further shows that daring literary invention—what Edwidge Danticat calls “dangerous creation”—constitutes one of the most striking and important means of communicating the effects of such a disaster, and that close engagement with the creative imagination is one of the most privileged ways for the outsider in particular to begin to comprehend the experience of living in and through a time of catastrophe.


'In the wake of Haiti's tragic 2010 earthquake, Dany Laferriere called for an imaginative rethinking of a new Haiti reborn from the disaster. In his thorough and perceptive survey of Haitian post-earthquake literature, Martin Munro examines the literary legacy of catastrophe. More than literary therapy, this new phase of Haitian writing emphasizes reconstruction as a subjective, human endeavor and engages with a changed view of Haitian space, collective values, tolerance and hospitality which are the key to Haiti’s recovery from this disaster. Writing on the Fault line is as timely as it is welcome.'
J. Michael Dash

'Writing on the Fault Line is a tour de force; the definitive statement on the effects of a devastating earthquake on Haiti’s literary production.'
Rachel Douglas, University of Glasgow

'Over many years, Martin Munro’s work has been mapping the cultural imprint of Haitian history. Along with several other groundbreaking critics, whose thinking he draws upon,he has made Haiti more approachable (especially for the Anglophone world).'
Mary Gallagher, L'Esprit Créateur

'This book also speaks broadly to the cultural, political, aesthetic, and historical importance of literature as a valid means of creating knowledge. It offers inspired, articulate reasons as to why Haitian literature, and fiction as a genre, provides invaluable testimony for better understanding countries and their people in difficult times.'
Jason Herbeck, French Review


Author Information

Martin Munro is Winthrop-King Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University, and the author of Different Drummers: Rhythm and Race in the Americas (University of California Press, 2010); Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferrière, Danticat (Liverpool University Press, 2007); and editor of Haiti Rising: Haitian History, Culture and the Earthquake of 2010 (Liverpool University Press, 2010).

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Introduction: Reading the Ruins
1. Going Public: The Post-earthquake Essay
2. Broken Bodies: Makenzy Orcel, Marvin Victor, and the New Haitian Novel
3. Broken Lands: Gary Victor, Kettly Mars, and Post-earthquake Fiction
4. Not Writing Disaster: The Earthquake as Non-event in the Haitian Novel 2010-2014
5. Writing the “Haitian Soul”: Post-earthquake Poetry
Conclusion: New Lands