Novel to be translated: Guillaume and Nathalie


Guillaume and Nathalie by Yanick Lahens

A man and a younger woman meet in contemporary Port-au-Prince, the violent, poverty-stricken, fearsomely beautiful Haitian capital. Their passion is at once carnal and intellectual, touched by the shadow of a past trauma. In choosing to write this novel almost three years after the earthquake, Yanick Lahens provides a stunning celebration of the victory of life and writing over catastrophe.
Biography Yanick Lahens lives in Haiti. Her novels, short stories and essays, notably
Failles (Sabine Wespieser éditeur, 2010), portray her island as it is, lucidly and without indulgence. Her independence of mind and the authority she has acquired through community activism give her a unique position on the Haitian literary scene. Publications from Sabine Wespieser: Bain de lune (forthcoming 2014); La Couleur de l’aube, 2008 (rfo prize 2009)

Guillaume is a sociologist, Nathalie an architect. They meet at the office of the French agency funding the construction of a community centre on which both are working. Guillaume, now 50, his utopian ideals long abandoned, has spent his whole life in Haiti, Nathalie has just returned, having left suddenly at the age of 18. From initial exasperation their mutual attraction turns into a dance of seduction as each gives way to a passion that will not be denied. Yanick Lahens is a fine storyteller who does not shy away from using the codes of the erotic novel to captivate her readers, writing of the impatience of desire and the unthinking sensuality it arouses. But she also looks beyond the particular situation of her characters and, as she plunges Guillaume and Nathalie into their affair, never forgets where they come from, still less where they are now. But, while the narrative acknowledges the poverty endemic to the Haiti in which it unfolds, and which its two black middle class protagonists are keen to hold at bay, there is nothing miserabilist in the writing. Nor does it dwell on disaster, beyond an unspecified sense of menace hanging over Haiti in December 2009.
© Frederick Alexis/Sabine Wespieser
Publisher: Sabine Wespieser
Date of Publication: April 2013
Foreign Rights Manager: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Number of Pages: 176
Translation: Trista Selou