Tag Archives: Haiti Earthquake 2010

“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

 

 

“Tell Them I’m Still Here” – Maxo Simeon

Tell Them I'm Still Here“Tell them I’m still here. Tell my sisters, my cousins, their children–I’ve never met any of their children. But tell them anyway.  Tell them Maxo Simeon said he is still alive. Di yo m’fout la toujou.” Jean-Max Simeon

“I was taking my daughter to school.  She was getting out of the car, when the ground started to shake. I yelled at her to get back in. We drove fast. You see me here.  Ask me why I’m alive. I can’t tell you what I don’t know.” Frank Simeon

SAM_0287“You realize your big house is useless. The furniture is nothing. You are afraid of your big house. The bigger it is, the faster it  kills you.” – Lucienne

“The walls stretched. They shook you. One minute I was here. Next minute I was upside down. The house was elastic. It was a miracle that we survived. ” – Nadia Simeon

large family tent“When you’re inside the tent, you feel like somebody set your skin on fire. You don’t move. You wait. You know if you live to see the next day, maybe you’ll see the one after it.” -Barbara Simeon

“After 49 years of back-breaking work in the United States, I was supposed to spend my remaining years in my own country.  Now they tell me my house collapsed.  I don’t want to hear that my life in America was for nothing.” -MyrtaSAM_0288

“I didn’t know what was happening. How was I supposed to know? I held my baby, and ran. I didn’t know where we would stop. I just ran.” Nicole

“There are so many ways it is described, this ‘Thing’ that manifested itself that January afternoon, leaving Haitians in such fear that even those whose houses are undamaged will not sleep inside. ” -Actress and poet Michele Voltaire Marcelin — from “The Thing”

“Caribbean Market fell. People were screaming.  The market kept falling. The roof. The walls. The air turned to dust.” -Stanley Simeon

“People in America knew more than we did. We didn’t have televisions to watch the news. We didn’t have a radio. People guessed. People repeated what they’d heard. We believed everything. We believed nothing.” – Hans Simeon

“I was sitting in my taptap, when it hit. Dozens of people tried to fit in the cab. They piled on the hood. They jumped on the roof. They wanted me to drive them away from the problem. But the problem was everywhere.” –Rodley Simeon

“Children asked what it was. We couldn’t tell them what it was. The children called it by the sound it made: Goudougoudou (goodoogoodoo.)  ‘Goudougoudou eats people,’ the children said. Every time the ground shook, the children cried out, ‘Goudougoudou is going to eat us too.’ ” Jenny

Mango - Papa Yiyi - February 2010

VoicesfromHaiti photo – February, 2010

“People came from everywhere. You didn’t know who they were. They had lost families and homes. They were hungry.  They asked if they could eat the green mangoes on our tree. We told them they could. We sat together and ate. Papa Yiyi planted the mango tree seven years ago. He died shortly afterwards. He would be pleased to know how many people the tree feeds now.” – Barbara Simeon

Still shot of Anaika Saint Louis from CNN video.

Still shot of Anaika Saint Louis from CNN video.

“Anaika Saint Louis was just 11 years old. She wanted to live. But the world flew too far away for her arms to reach. She ran in her sleep.  Six years ago today, Anaika Saint Louis started her journey to Paradise. Every tear her innocent eyes shed was a waterfall to me. Even though Anaika and I never met, I feel as if I knew her. I remember her voice. I can still her screaming. Rest in Paradise, little angel.” – Rachelle Coriolan

Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: New book by Gina A. Ulysse

Why Haiti Needs New Narratives“Mainstream coverage of the catastrophic earthquake of January 12, 2010, reproduced longstanding stereotypes of Haiti. Aware that this Haiti is a rhetorically and graphically incarcerated one, the feminist anthropologist and performance artist Gina Athena Ulysse embarked on a writing spree that lasted over two years. Her trilingual book (English, Kreyòl, and French) contains thirty pieces and includes a foreword by award-winning author and historian Robin D. G. Kelley.” – From Brooklyn Public Library.

Gina A. Ulysse will read and discuss her work. Don’t miss it!

Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle

Saturday, September 19, 2015 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Central Library, Dweck Center

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT  Ulysse’s  new book: Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle

Gina Ulysse from her webpage“Ulysse’s clear, powerful writing rips through the stereotypes to reveal a portrait of Haiti in politics and art that will change the way you think about that nation’s culture, and your own.” (Jonathan M. Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster)|

This is a beautifully written and profoundly important work of engaged anthropology. Gina Ulysse steps bravely into the public domain bringing a nuanced and sophisticated analysis of things Haitian to a large group of general readers as well as to a broad audience of scholars. Publication of this book marks a kind of ‘coming of age’ for anthropological bloggers and public anthropology.” (Paul Stoller, author of Yaya’s Story: The Quest for Well-Being in the World)

“This compilation is the gut-felt testimony of an insider/outsider that resounds like a thunderclap in the desert. Trapped in the alienating context of sterile academia, a neoliberal political economy, populations displaced, shock therapy and general geopolitical shifts, the author uses the gift of polysemy to open horizons. Through thought, action, word, poetry, song . . . flow yet-unbounded prospects.” (Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique, professor, Université d’État d’Haïti)

Taking us through entangled and liberating possibilities, Gina Ulysse introduces us to Haiti, the kingdom of this world. Embedded in the interstices of words and of aesthetic sensibilities that summon the past into the present, the powerful promise of a people is revealed. Ashe.” (Arlene Torres, coeditor of Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean)

“Five years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Gina Ulysse smashes clichés, defends Vodou, and reminds us of her homeland’s complex history. Her compelling as-it-happened reports and analyses are crucial to our understanding and empathy for the republic and its people.” (Katherine Spillar, executive editor, Ms. magazine)

Gina UlysseAbout the Author

Gina Athena Ulysse was born in Pétion-Ville, Haiti. In 2005, when she became a U.S. citizen, she gave herself the name Athena. She is the middle child of three sisters – who had migrated to the East Coast of the United States in their early teens. Her family has lived somewhere around there ever since.

A feminist artist-anthropologist-activist and a self-proclaimed Post-Zora Interventionist, she earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She is also a performance artist, poet and multi-media artist. It was during the early years of her graduate career that Ulysse began to seriously actively perform in part to pursue a childhood dream of wanting to be a singer and to ground herself and allow her creative spirit to breathe through this restructuring process that threatened to desensitize her.

Spokenword became her chosen medium. She deploys it to both explore and push the blurred border zones between ethnography and performance. She considers these works “alter(ed)native” forms of ethnography constructed out of what she calls “recycled ethnographic collectibles” (raw bits and pieces that seem too personal or trivial) through which she engages with the visceral that is embedded, yet too often absent, in structural analyses. Her ultimate aim with such works is to access/face and recreate a full and integrated subject without leaving the body behind. An interdisciplinary scholar-artist, Ulysse weaves history, statistics, personal narrative, theory, with Vodou chants to dramatize and address issues of social (in)justice, intersectional identities, spirituality and the dehumanization of Haitians and other marked bodies. With her performance work, she seeks to outline, confront and work through the continuities and discontinuities in the unprocessed horror of colonialism. Or to put it another way, Ulysse explores the complex ways the past functions in the present and is disavowed as both Michel-Rolph Trouillot and Sibylle Fischer have aptly put in Silencing the Past and Modernity Disavowed.

A dynamic performer, described by artist Evan Bissell as “a powerhouse and a whirling storm,” and historian Robin D.G. Kelley as “a one-woman aftershock” Ulysse has performed variations of her one-woman show Because When God is too Busy: Haiti, me and THE WORLD and other works at conferences, in colleges and universities throughout the United States and internationally.

She is currently developing an avant-garde meditation, VooDooDoll What if Haïti were a Woman: On ti Travay sou 21 Pwen or An Alter(ed)native in Something Other than Fiction. (10), the first installation-performance from this work, which was curated by Lucian Gomoll, had its debut at Encuentro in Montreal in 2014. Her latest project, Contemplating Distances – explores the exchange value of black bodies in the Transatlantic slave trade and the 18th century grain shortage in Saint Domingue – was presented at the “Spaces, Scales, and Routes: Region Formation in History and Anthropology conference.”

She is currently Professor of anthropology at Wesleyan University.

———————————————————-VoicesfromHaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La! (We are Beautiful. We are Here!) Click HERE to purchase your own  Nou Bèl. Nou La! T-shirt.

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