Haiti Unbound

BookHaiti Unbound

Haiti Unbound

A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 15


December 8th, 2010


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An Open Access edition of this book is available on the Liverpool University Press website and the OAPEN library.
Historically and contemporarily, politically and literarily, Haiti has long been relegated to the margins of the so-called 'New World.' Marked by exceptionalism, the voices of some of its most important writers have consequently been muted by the geopolitical realities of the nation's fraught history. In Haiti Unbound, Kaiama L. Glover offers a close look at the works of three such writers: the Haitian Spiralists Frankétienne, Jean-Claude Fignolé, and René Philoctète. While Spiralism has been acknowledged by scholars and regional writer-intellectuals alike as a crucial contribution to the French-speaking Caribbean literary tradition, the Spiralist ethic-aesthetic not yet been given the sustained attention of a full-length study. Glover's book represents the first effort in any language to consider the works of the three Spiralist authors both individually and collectively, and so fills an astonishingly empty place in the assessment of postcolonial Caribbean aesthetics. Touching on the role and destiny of Haiti in the Americas, Haiti Unbound engages with long-standing issues of imperialism and resistance culture in the transatlantic world. Glover's timely project emphatically articulates Haiti's regional and global centrality, combining vital 'big picture' reflections on the field of postcolonial studies with elegant close-reading-based analyses of the philosophical perspective and creative practice of a distinctively Haitian literary phenomenon. Most importantly perhaps, the book advocates for the inclusion of three largely unrecognized voices in the disturbingly fixed roster of writer-intellectuals that have thus far interested theorists of postcolonial (Francophone) literature. Providing insightful and sophisticated blueprints for the reading and teaching of the Spiralists' prose fiction, Haiti Unbound will serve as a point of reference for the works of these authors and for the singular socio-political space out of and within which they write.

Kaiama Glover’s stunning elucidation of Haitian Spiralist literature is a tour-de-force... If Spiralism itself constitutes the most magnificent cultural artifice of Haitian dystopia, Glover’s groundbreaking study is essential reading for those interested in exploring the limits of Caribbean expression achieved by these superb writers, and the volcanic intensity of the literary movement that has perhaps most fully expressed the ‘schizophonic’ beauty and horror of Haitian reality.

In this compelling book, Glover charts the association of Caribbean stories with the performative interpersonal dimensions of krik krak, with the revisiting of epic historical memories in the present or the future, and with figures and fractured revenants like the zonbi, the schizophrenic, or conflictual marasa or twins. The spiral is a chameleon-like form: it can be conceptualized as a literary form or genre, as the hybrid African/New World cultural space of the genesis and reception of creole, or as the evanescence of ideological heroism into a fog of disputed memories.

Research in African Literatures, Volume 43 Number 3


Author Information

Kaiama L. Glover is Associate Professor of French and Africana Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University and author of Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon (Liverpool University Press 2010).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Part I Introduction The Consequences of Ex-Centricity25
Part II Shifty/Shifting Characters55
1. Beings Without Borders60
2. Zombies Become Warriors80
3. Productive Schizophrenia96
Part III Space-Time of the Spiral124
4. Haiti Unbound?129
5. Present-ing the Past151
6. Haiti in the Whirl/World180
Part IV Showing vs. Telling201
7. The Stylistics of Possession205
8. Framing the Folk230
9. Schizophonic Solutions251
Part V Conclusions260
Works Cited266