Spring Reading Recommendations
No matter where you live, the cooler months are a great time to curl up with a memorable book. Even in Haiti, the temperature drops, and you can enjoy a refreshing breeze while lounging in your yard and sipping tea! Here are our "picks" for some great Haiti reading!
The Black Count by Tom Reiss
The Black Count is a compelling biography that received the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. It tells the story of a little known hero of the French Revolution: Alexander Dumas, father to the famous author of the same name (The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo.) Dumas Sr. was actually born and raised in Haiti, his father being a French marquis ne'er-do-well and fugitive who lived a precarious existence on Haiti's southwestern peninsula. His mother was a Haitian slave. The Black Count tracks Dumas Sr.'s rise to military success during a brief historical period where the ideals of the French revolution - equality, fraternity, liberty - made a French population temporarily 'color blind.' Along the way, the book also reveals how major plots points of Dumas Jr.'s famous novels came directly from his father's life.
I picked up this book last February while lounging on the beach of Bonbon, outside of the southwestern town of Jeremie. I got chills as I read that Dumas Sr. played on these exact shores as a young child, before making the long, one-way voyage to Europe.
Because We Are by Ted Oswald
Because We Are is a murder mystery set in a notorious slum community in Port-au-Prince -- Cite Soleil. Two young, ambitious children, Libète and Jak, take the lead in solving the crime and risk their lives at every turn. Even if you aren't normally a reader of mysteries, Because We Are offers an entirely unique look at life in Haiti, with a winning heroine and hero at the center of an unpredictable and engaging story line. The Because We Are characters continue with the book's sequel, There Is A Land, which provides a stunning portrait of rural, Haitian life.
Ted began his journey as an author after our 2010 stint in Haiti, before serving with MCC. He interned in one of Cite Soleil's neighborhoods and came to know certain friends and neighbors that captivated his imagination and inspired many of the scenes and characters in Because We Are, Ted's first novel.
Katharine Oswald is an MCC Haiti alumni who served as the Policy Analyst and Advocacy Coordinator along with her husband, Ted, from 2014-2016. Fromm San Diego, California Katharine studied History and Religious Studies at University of California, Davis, then International Development at Eastern University. You can follow her personal blog, Stories to Tell.