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Hadriana in All My Dreams by René Depestre

Hadriana in All My Dreams

by René Depestre

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7312233,036 (3.78)11



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I happily join the one other person (as of the writing of this review) who felt that this novel was a 5 star read. This was the most fantastical, erotic read of the year by a long mile. The language, despite being a translation, is marvelous with a rhythmic cadence that can make it feel like the narrator is short of breath. I found this riveting, rather than distracting. I also found the blunt nature of the magical realism refreshing. I would certainly recommend this read with the caveat that I feel this is a novel you will either love or not. ( )
  SnowcatCradle | Dec 8, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Every review I see here likes the book, or loves the book, so please read this review with caution: it could very well be that I'm about to describe my own problems rather than the book's. Let me also say that I've started and put this book down three times and now I'm giving up. Why? Because what other reviewers are calling "erotic" I would call a romanticization of rape that feels unrelenting in the book's early pages. "Superb adolescents, having gone to bed virgins, safe within the cocoon of the family would awaken dismayed, with blood everywhere, brutally deflowered" (40). But it's okay, because these girls, adolescents in this paragraph, are described as "women" in the next, and we're told that, despite the blood and brutality, they had dreams of "swooning joy" (40). To which I say, there are plenty of books that don't ask me to pretend that rape is no big deal, so why should I waste my time with this piece of shit? ( )
1 vote susanbooks | Nov 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Several years ago, I was doing research on Haitian Vodou and was surprised to find so little authentic material out there. Only two sources provided glimpses into Vodou's mysterious beliefs and practices – Zora Neal Hurston’s Tell My Horse and filmmaker Maya Deren’s documentary, “Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti.” Both Hurston and Deren spent considerable time in small Haitian communities, gaining the trust of the locals, in order to gain unprecedented access to rites and ceremonies that outsiders normally never see.

I’ve never encountered any fiction that has done justice to this misunderstood religion; it all tends to focus on the more sensationalistic elements (e.g, ritual animal sacrifice and zombies), but Rene Depestre’s amazing Hadriana In All My Dreams rectifies that. Briefly, it tells the story of a beautiful and much beloved young French woman who dies at the altar on her wedding day, in front of the entire Haitian village of Jacmel. But she isn’t truly dead. She has been turned into a zombie by an evil sorcerer who wants her for his own. The tale unfolds through the eyes of a teenaged boy who is a confidant and secret admirer of Hadriana, as well as Hadriana herself, who recounts her horrific experience of being trapped in a seemingly lifeless body while the townsfolk and her family argue over her funeral rites.

While this might all sound like the stuff of horror fiction, Depestre’s novel is actual filled with ribald humor, steamy sexuality and ultimately, romance. The funeral itself, which coincides with the village’s annual carnival, is chockful of glorious details of Haitian Vodou traditions and ceremony. It crackles with the fire of the genuine. It does not shy away from things that Westerners might view as primitive or naïve, while at the same time, it does not sensationalize them. If anything, the story exudes a warmth and familiarity that could only come from a native son of Haiti.

I am so glad I was introduced to this little gem. I went in looking for an education and left with a love story that was by turns fanciful, comical, suspenseful and thoroughly engaging. ( )
  blakefraina | Jul 28, 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 |
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"Takes place primarily during carnival in 1938 in the Haitian village of Jacmel. A beautiful young French woman, Hadriana, is about to marry a Haitian boy from a prominent family. But on the morning of the wedding, Hadriana drinks a mysterious potion and collapses at the altar. Transformed into a zombie, her wedding becomes her funeral. She is buried by the town, revived by an evil sorcerer, then disappears into popular legend. Set against a backdrop of magic and eroticism, and recounted with delirious humor, the novel raises universal questions about race and sexuality"--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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