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Masters of the Dew by Jacques Roumain

Masters of the Dew (1944)

by Jacques Roumain

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I had never heard of this one, but this is a really good book. Set in Haiti, Manuel is a migrant worker returning from Cuba with ideas of how to improve the farming situation. The locals have in their need and ignorance (paraphrased from the book) cut down the trees keeping the topsoil in place and the water has pretty much dried up. Manuel, with his love Annaise, finds a water source, but a bloody family land dispute makes it difficult to convince everyone to take part in the scheme.

Gives you an insight into one of the reasons why Haiti is like it is today, with its colonial legacy. ( )
  soffitta1 | Feb 15, 2009 |
A beautiful, inspiring novel. Part fable, part biography of a land; part poetry, part sheer hard fact. ( )
  thesmellofbooks | Feb 11, 2009 |
Masters of the Dew is a socialist realist novel written in 1944 by the prominent Haitian communist Jacques Roumain. It follows the story of Manuel, who is returning to his Haitian village after years in Cuba, to find it poor, starving and feuding. He tries to unite the village to build a canal so that it can farm prosperously and harmoniously once more, but finds old hatreds, religious beliefs and scheming landlords blocking his way.
I enjoyed Masters of the Dew, but it was unrelenting in its political preaching and this did detract from the book. Every character becomes a cipher to illustrate a point about marxist politics and Haitian society, to the point that aspects of characterisation and narrative sometimes become squeezed in its political framework. This is, of course, an issue with any book trying to take on much bigger issues than are simply suggested by the story, and there are many examples that get the balance more badly wrong than Masters of the Dew. It is a quick, easy and interesting read, and worth a look if you get the chance.
2 vote GlebtheDancer | Mar 5, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacques Roumainprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cook, MercerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, LangstonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0435987453, Paperback)

The genre of the peasant novel in Haiti reaches back to the nineteenth century and this is one of the outstanding examples. Manuel returns to his native village after working on a sugar plantation in Cuba only to discover that it is stricken by a drought and divided by a family feud. He attacks the resignation endemic among his people by preaching the kind of political awareness and solidarity he has learned in Cuba. He goes on to illustrate his ideas in a tangible way by finding water and bringing it to the fields through the collective labor of the villagers. In this political fable, Roumain is careful to create an authentic environment and credible characters. Readers will be emotionally moved as well as ideologically persuaded.

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

Roumain, Haiti's most-famous author, tells how Manuel returns to his village, where he helps his people find water for their drought-stricken fields and raises awareness of their power in solidarity against those who exploit their labor.

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