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Erzulie's Skirt by Ana-Maurine Lara
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Erzulie's Skirt

by Ana-Maurine Lara

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201515,329 (4.5)5

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Erzulie's Skirt is a novel about two Afro-Dominican women, Miriam and Micaela, born in the countryside, steeped in the traditions of Haitian Vodoun and Dominican Vudu, trying to survive in an increasingly urbanized Dominican Republic.

Miriam is the daughter of Haitian immigrants, literally serfs on a sugar-cane plantation, oppressed by poverty, discrimination, and murderous raids. After her parents are killed in an accident, she leaves the plantation for the city of San Cristobal with her lover, by whom she is pregnant.

Micaela's parents are Dominican peasants who own a small farm. Her father is a Vudu priest and healer; her mother, once a Vudu priestess has been lured into the "church women" circle of evangelicos, after a difficult childbirth. When Micaela's younger brother accidentally drowns, her mother blames her and banishes her from the household. She too, ends up in San Cristobal.

Eventually the two women meet as they live in the same slum neighborhood. Micaela has managed to obtain a job as a servant in a wealthy household; Miriam can only find work hawking cheap goods and braiding tourists' hair on the beach. They barely survive a disastrous attempt to emigrate to America and return to the Dominican Republic. Finally, it is the spiritual connection to each other and to the African luases (gods) that allow the two women to survive.

This is Ana-Maurine Lara's first novel, and it has rough edges and unfinished pieces. However, I found it an illuminating journey into a world of grinding poverty that finds hope, and even sometimes joy, in a spiritual connection. It helps to have a bit of background into African-Caribbean religion to read this book, although the author provides a good afterword on Vodoun and Vudu and a glossary of Creole and Dominican terms (which I unfortunately did not discover until I got to the end of the book). Definitely worth the read! ( )
2 vote janeajones | Mar 31, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0978625102, Paperback)

Set in the age of urbanization in the Dominican Republic over the course of several lifetimes, Erzulie's Skirt is a tale of how women and their families struggle with love, tragedy and destiny. Told from the perspectives of three women, Erzulie's Skirt takes us from rural villages and sugar cane plantations to the poor neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, and through the journey by yola across the sea between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It is a compelling love story that unearths our deep ancestral connections to land, ritual and memory.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:22 -0400)

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