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Hadriana in All My Dreams by René Depestre
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Hadriana in All My Dreams

by René Depestre

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A humorous, erotic, dreamlike, magical-realist tale of Voudou, Zombies, and folklore. Hadiana presents a microcosm of Haitian (more specifically Jacmelian) culture set in the late 1930s when the author would have been a pre-teen. The book is a very warm recounting of all-things Haitian; a sort of love story/memoir of and for Haiti by a homegrown author who left in near-permanent exile to become a Marxist activist and promote global anti-European decolonization efforts after WWII.

Although I enjoyed the work greatly (it's full of warmth, color, and sensuality), I found the overall message somewhat puzzling as is often the case with magical-realist and surrealist novels. Hadriana appears to involve racial and sexual catharsis, but perhaps is intended simply as entertainment touching on myriad aspects of Haitian culture, again as love memoir. Likely it was meant to be fully understood only by native Haitians. Regardless, I highly recommend it! ( )
1 vote vaniamk13 | May 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Translated from French, Hadriana In All My Dreams is a tale of zombies and romance, Voodoo and eroticism in Haiti in the late 1930's. The narrator tells the tale of Hadriana and others who come into contact with supernatural forces, and the beliefs of the Haitians in the city of Jacmel. Depestre does a good job contrasting Voodoo and Catholicism and the relation of the native islanders to Hadriana and her family, a weatlhy white family from France. Eroticism plays a significant part of the tale, an aspect of Voodoo I was unaware of. Some of the language used related to the erotic details seemed a little off or forced, so it was helpful to read to interpreter's notes at the end where she says " figuring out how to translate Depestre's twenty or so terms for human genitalia indeed had me stretching the limits of the English language" to make me forgive some of the terms used that seemed unusual and at times, laughable. The author paints a vivid picture of Haiti and the island and its culture are one the centerpieces of this novel and I feel handled very well. The story itself bogs down in the middle- there is a lack of suspense at points, I feel - without giving much away, I will only say certain outcomes seemed inevitable but a number of pages were spent where the tale didn't seem to get any closer to resolution. Overall, the descriptions of Haiti, the contrast between Voodoo and Catholicism as well as the wealth white French family and their relations to the Haitians made this a good read and make me interested to seek our more of Depestre's work.

Thanks to the publisher Akashic Books for the advance reading copy. ( )
  TimV57 | May 5, 2017 |
I received the book, HADRIANA IN ALL MY DREAMS: A NOVEL from Akashic Books in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
HADRIANA IN ALL MY DREAMS: A NOVEL by Rene’ Despestre and newly translated by Kaiama L. Glover, is a reprint of this title first published in 1988.
The author, Rene’ Despestre, is a very distinguished and respected writer. His is a very strong and important voice representing Haitian literature. Born in 1926, Rene’ Despestre has “lived through significant moments in Haitian and New World history” and “is uniquely positioned to reflect on the extent to which the Americas and Europe are implicated in Haiti’s past and present”.
HADRIANA IN ALL MY DREAMS is a classic piece, winning the French Prix Renaudot and other prestigious prizes upon publication (in 1988).
The book consists of a Table of Contents; a map; a foreword by Edwidge Danticat; a glossary of terms and the translator’s note. Contents include 3 main parts - First Movement, Second Movement, Third Movement with 6 main chapters (and their subsequent parts).
The glossary was very interesting and helpful, as was the foreword and translator’s note. Chapter Six, Hadriana’s Tale, was an important chapter; as was Parts 5 & 6 of Chapter Four, Requiem for a Creole Fairy, which defines a zombie and tells us about the zombie process or a ‘Zombiferous Pharmacopoeia’.

In January of 1938, a young woman, Hadriana Siloe’ and her fiance Hector Danoze, are to be married at the Saint Philippe and Saint Jacque Church in the southern Haitian town of Jacmel. With the ‘death’ of Hadriana on the altar steps as she was about to say ‘I Do’, a “pitiless battle began between the two belief systems that have long gone head-to-head in the Haitian imagination; Christianity and Vodou”.
[Vodou is defined in the glossary as “popular Haitian religion born of the syncretism of rites originating in sub-Saharan Africa and Catholic beliefs; an agrarian cult that plays the same role in Haitian life as that of pagan sects in ancient societies.”]

I must admit that I am not very familiar with the complexities and subtleties of Haitian culture. I made many forays into history books and atlases from which I learned much - about geography, the exploration and exploitation of the Americas, the horrendous slave trade and Haitian religious and cultural beliefs.
This book was very interesting to read - entertaining; humorous at times; puzzling (often); a story of magic, fantasy, love, culture clashes, carnival scenes, hysteria, sensualness, sex, eroticism, local traditions, nostalgia, gender and race. It is one of the most exotic and unusual stories I have ever read. It isn’t everyday that one reads about a recipe that will turn another person into a zombie.
I liked the outline map. I must say (again) that the glossary was interesting and helpful, as was the foreword and translator’s note. The carnival hysteria; the costumes and parade of characters at the funeral; the characters themselves - all set the tone and pace and sense of place. Some interesting bits that helped define the story for me a bit more were the following:
p. 124 “that the real Haiti had been exposed.” “The Jacemelians - with their necrophilic imagination had incorporated their daughter into a fairy tale”.
p. 127 an explanation of Haiti and zombies
pp. 149-154 Chapter 5, Part 2 Letter from Jacmel
All in all, a very unusual, interesting book. ( )
  diana.hauser | Apr 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Depestre's novel is beautiful depiction of Haitian culture, the likes of which I had never been exposed.

The story of Hadriana Siloe's tragic death and the following complications between her family's Catholic faith and the town of Jacmel's Vodoo traditions sets up a wonderful story of cultural melding, communal loss of a beloved child of the town, and enduring love. Patrick, the narrator and close friend of Hadriana, takes the audience through the tumultuous events leading up to Hadriana's wedding, death, and zombification while ever lamenting the loss of his beloved.

The novel is riveting, inspiring, and absolutely fascinating. ( )
  MeganWhobrey | Apr 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It took me a while to settle into this book, in that it relies perhaps on a shared cultural knowledge I don't have...but once I gave up on understanding every bit of what was going on (for instance, what the heck was going on with Germaine Villaret-Joyeuse's "loins?") it entranced me. Some books cast as wide a net for readers as possible, and make themselves accessible to readers who don't share the author's culture, and other books are for sharing within a culture, author to reader, both with a shared understanding of things that need no explanation. This novel was the latter, but I enjoyed being an outsider, looking in. ( )
  poingu | Apr 23, 2017 |
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