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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 10 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It's hard for me to give only two stars, but this book didn't quite do it for me. I think a lot of that has to do with culture shock -- I am a white American male, which is pretty much as far removed from the Haitian culture in the book as you can get. I do love books, though, that take you somewhere else -- that's why I read, after all -- but with this book, I never quite felt like I got it.

Also, I've seen this marketed as a zombie love story... no. There are zombies, but no of The Walking Dead ilk. (This is no Warm Bodies.) There's love, too, but it's never really felt, just talked about. What this is, really, is an exploration of the small town of Jacmel, where Voudou and Christianity converged. There are SO MANY names, it's hard to keep anyone straight. And the tone of the narrator is incredibly journalistic -- I often felt, I think intentionally, that I was reading a newspaper rather than a novel.

Several times I thought I'd give up on the book, but I kept going, partly because it's short and partly out of sheer stubbornness. I was rewarded: the book does have the amazing line "broken like waves on a windless day" to describe the faces of people in mourning... and the read was worth it just for that! ( )
  inpariswithyou | Jun 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm a bit wary of passing judgment since this is my first encounter with Depestre and with Haitian literature altogether. Much of it was compelling, vivid, and fascinating; other times it seemed random and didn't hang together. It seems to bend genres deliberately, with a scholarly discourse at one point on the range of meanings of zombies, other places with exuberant erotica, other places a kind of magical realism. The ending seems anticlimactic (a bit ironic, since there are climaxes happening all over the place). I was puzzled that zombification both had its magic meaning and was given a plausible chemical explanation at the same time, but maybe that's the point—everything is so excessively meaningful that it's impossible for any one person to say which meaning is valid or true or factual and which isn't.
  SarahEHWilson | Jun 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A classic of Haitian literature, Hadriana In All My Dreams is a vibrant and sensual tale about Carnival in Jacmel, the magic of Voodoo, the mystery of zombification, a lascivious butterfly, lots of sex (with a multitude of creative words and phrases for describing genitalia), and a young woman's death on her wedding night which sends an entire town into mourning. The story is written with lush, beautiful sexy language that brings Haitian culture to life in a way that's haunting and powerful. ( )
  andreablythe | Jun 2, 2017 |
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 |
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