3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with genre
Ok guys, help me out on this one. I suffer a severe form of geographic retardation, and the internet does not seem to be much help tonight... is Ayiti a part of Haiti, or simply the word Haiti spelled out phonetically in Creole? I'm thinking it's the latter...
See, Ayiti is the upcoming first release from Roxane Gay, and it's a collection of her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The entire collection takes place in Haiti or deals specifically with the cultural differences of Haiti natives who attempt to assimilate themselves in North America.
Some of the stories resonated strongly with me: Motherfuckers tells the story of a young Haitian boy who becomes nicknamed by his classmates as HBO for his body odor. Voodoo Child is about a Haitian college student whose roommate wrongly assumes she practices voodoo and rather than correct her, she plays the part to keep the fear simmering. In Things I Know About Fairy Tales, the main character explains how women in Haiti are prepared by their mothers for their eventual kidnapping, referring to bits and pieces of the fairy tales she grew up loving and applying them to her life during and after the abduction.
Other stories, like A Cool Dry Place, All Things Being Relative, and Gracias Nicaragua Y Los Sentimos, while well written, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, simply did not catch my attention the way the others did.
Roxane's stories impart a wisdom that appears to have been gained through difficult and challenging life experiences. (I say "appears" because I am not entirely sure which stories are true and which are fiction.) Her view of the world is unique and beautiful and, at times, even quite painful. Her writing offers a fresh perspective on a frequently misunderstood culture.
I want to thank Ryan and his publishing company Artistically Declined Press for allowing me the opportunity to review Ayiti.