“Mouths Don’t Speak” A novel set in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010

Photo credit: Akashic Books

No one was prepared for the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, taking over a quarter-million lives, and leaving millions of others homeless. Three thousand miles away, Jacqueline Florestant mourns the presumed death of her parents, while her husband, a former US Marine and combat veteran, cares for their three-year-old daughter as he fights his own battles with acute PTSD.

Horrified and guilt-ridden, Jacqueline returns to Haiti in search of the proverbial “closure.” Unfortunately, the Haiti she left as a child twenty-five years earlier has disappeared. Her quest turns into a tornado of deception, desperation, and more death. So Jacqueline holds tightly to her daughter–the only one who must not die.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

What people are saying…

“Powerful. . . As Ulysse explores grief, she moves beyond her protagonist to consider the murky motivations and emotions of other characters. This is a harrowing, thoughtful dive into the aftermath of national and personal tragedies filtered through diasporic life.”
Publishers Weekly

“A captivating portrait of a woman plagued with worry about family and homeland, this beautifully written novel recalls Toni Morrison’s Paradise.”
Library Journal

“After the 2010 Haiti earthquake kills her parents, a woman returns to Haiti after leaving it as a child, 25 years ago. A powerful and engrossing story, this read cannot be missed.”
Bustle, included in 35 Most Anticipated Fiction Books of 2018

“Katia D. Ulysse’s relentless prose delves into the class divide made blatant in the wake of the earthquake while probing the boundaries of the struggles of being a multinational family in a time of crisis.”
World Literature Today, included in Nota Benes, November 2017

“Ulysse punctuates . . . descriptions of the lush Florestant plantation with insightful observations about strained family dynamics. The ties that bind can also constrict us.”
Booklist

“A heartbreaking symphony of place, time, [and] relationships.”
Rebel Women Lit

“A phenomenal writer.”
Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light

“Ulysse is an intense writer, bringing her readers into the emotions of her characters . . . This a powerful story.”
Me, You, and Books

“With grace and elegance, Katia D. Ulysse explores the implications of privilege and inaction, of inadequacy and otherness, of trauma and emotional isolation, and the pervasive ways that turmoil and loss corrode the lives of the individuals involved. Mouths Don’t Speak is a gem in the way it tackles difficult subjects and questions without answers.”
—M.J. Fièvre, author of A Sky the Color of Chaos

“Katia D. Ulysse is a writer of great power and passion, now delivering her most potent work to date. Mouths Don’t Speakis a story of annihilation and redemption—of a more harrowing journey back from the abyss than anyone who has not read it could possibly imagine. There are those who believe that a book can be a reposwa, in which a spirit may dwell, as in a grotto, tree, or spring. If that is true, then the spirit living in this book must be a very great one.
—Madison Smartt Bell, author of Behind the Moon

Mouths Don’t Speak is an intimate look at the complexities of family separation and bonds, wisdom passed from one generation to the next, and haunting trauma. The 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti is seen through different lenses both on the island and across the water in the United States. In the fallout, Katia D. Ulysse weaves a beguiling tale of reverie and​ colonial imprint, ​new lives created out of painful pasts, and what it really means to call a place home.”
—Morowa Yejidé, author of Time of the Locust

“With the force of an earthquake and with unrelenting prose, Katia D. Ulysse explores the pain of long-buried secrets, shakes them loose from their foundations, and deftly probes the lives of the families crippled by their aftermath.”
—Amina Gautier, author of The Loss of All Lost Things

“This beautiful book is for anyone who carries the pain of loss, the heartbreak of guilt, the tremor of horrors lived, and the knowledge that we all love in flawed ways. Consider it required reading for humans, and be brought back to life.”
—Anjanette Delgado, author of The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho

“Gripping and heartbreaking, Mouths Don’t Speak is an intricate tapestry of familial betrayals, misunderstandings, forgiveness, and love; a testament to the power of new beginnings even after unspeakable tragedies. The pages had me holding my breath!”
—Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of ’Til the Well Runs Dry

 

 

Haiti Remembrance Day: 8 Years Later

We will never forget January 12, 2010.

We recall precisely where we were, when the news reached our ears.

Port-au-Prince was unrecognizable. The unimaginable had happened.

Not long afterward, we calculated the number of lives lost: 200,000 and more.

I worry about families who have yet to located loved ones. They remain “Unaccounted for.”

There are no words to describe the fear and the fearlessness it took to wake up each day and keep moving forward.

We cannot imagine the number  of children who were “adopted” by foreigners.

The pain is still fresh–for the adults and their children.

How does one forget this catastrophe?

Though it’s been 8 years, it’s as if time had stood still.

All we can now is remember the injured people strewn in driveways and parking lots, begging to be seen by kind-hearted surgeons.

We survived. Barely . But we made it through. There are places where rubble is still on the ground, but we keep moving forward. Thank you .

Mere days before the remembrance of this deadly event, the current president of America smeared o ur country and the memory of our lost ones. He called describe our nation as a $#it-hole.  No, Mr. President. Haiti and Haitians are not a receptacle for your waste.

Come to think of it, hence the cholera epidemic.  They dumped their waste in our  rivers, causing thousands to die. Perhaps they believed Haiti was/is a latrine too.  Perhaps the Haitian government ought to show the world that we are not a shithole.   But I have one question:

Why do all those American citizens flock to Haiti, and never return to the states? Our $#it hole must be irresistible. Take a look like Baltimore. Look at the school system. Look at the miles upon miles of condemned houses. Hopefully the people from Norway and other countries on your ‘invitation’ list will be willing to clean up the mess. There are hundreds of homeless people under Route 83. Please, take care of them. They make the area look like very bad. I would not want to live there at all.

You managed to hijack the remembrance of a solemn time in Haiti, but we’ll make it thro ugh. We always do. That’s why I say, :We are beautiful. And we are here.”

 

 

 

Haiti’s 214th Independence Day

Every January First, we Haitians feel and display unabashed pride in our birth country. It is on this day, 214 years ago, that our fearless forefathers declared Haiti emancipated from barbaric slave-holders. Today, millions of people who have yet to set foot on Haitian soil also celebrate Haiti’s Independence Day. They know the insurmountable obstructions which our ancestors overcame to secure the first and only successful slave revolt in history. Friends of Haiti proudly wear our bicolor; they revel in everything Haitian: They scour the Internet for recipes to make our delicious Independence Day soup for their families. They play our drums. They sing our songs. They speak our language. Some even claim to be more Haitian than those born in the country.  All of us remain in awe of the men and women who gave their blood for our freedom, among them: Dutty Boukman, Francois Makandal, Henry Christophe, Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Catherine Flon, Cecile Fatiman, Capois LaMort, and so many more.

To those who say Haiti has little to show for her glorious past, some would agree that our hardship began twenty-one years after the successful revolt, when King Charles X levied what today would amount to 21 billion dollars against Haiti for the loss of revenue from slave labor. Dan Sperling, in his post for Forbes Magazine, put it this way: “France’s demand for reparations from Haiti seems comically outrageous today – equivalent to a kidnapper suing his escaped hostage for the cost of fixing a window that had been broken during the escape.” We could stop there, but the endless list of narcissistic leaders and perennial natural disasters continue to impede measureable growth.

Ousmane Sow’s Louverture (kdu photos)

One fact remains certain: Haiti will be known forever as the only successful slave colony to break the chains of slavery in an undeniable and spectacular manner. As the generations before ours have been taught, we will teach future generations the significance of the Revolution, what it means to carry Haitian blood in our veins. May our pride in Haiti endure!  As compatriots and friends of Haiti continue to do our part in rebuilding, let us remember those men and women who believed themselves unstoppable. Let us remember the decisive battle of Vertières, led by Francois Capois “LaMort.” History tells us that even after LaMort’s horse was shot from under him and a bullet went through his cap, he did not surrender. Instead, he brandished his saber and charged toward the enemy’s hail of bullets, all the while urging his men to do the same: “En Avant! En Avant!” he shouted. The enemy was so impressed with Capois Lamort’s courage that they paused the war to applaud him.  Onward!

Today, we remember the heroes and heroines of The Haitian Revolution. May we find in ourselves the courage and determination to make our country the gem it must be! Let us speak the words of Capois LaMort to ourselves and to our indestructible Haiti: “Onward!” Let us wish our country Happy 214th Independence Day!

Josaphat-Robert Large ~ The Final INNERview with Beloved Poet and Photographer.

Josaphat-Robert Large passed away on October 28, 2017.  His family and friends miss him very much, and wish he were here to celebrate November 15, his birthday, with them.

JR was passionate about poetry and photography.  He worked diligently to master both art forms, because he felt his readers deserved his absolute best.  He weighed each word, each photograph. When he was ready to share his work with his audience, we embraced and loved it.  Josaphat-Robert Large wrote in French, Haitian Creole, and in English. He was especially fond of our native tongue, saying the language itself inspired him.

JR–a proponent of Haiti’s mother tongue— joined the ancestors on the day dedicated to celebrating Creole languages worldwide.  We miss him dearly. Rest in peace, Josaphat-Robert Large. Thank you for the rich legacy.

Click here to read Part One of the final INNERview with beloved poet and photographer, Josaphat-Robert Large.

We are Beautiful and We Are Here