Nominated by:

Halifax Public Libraries, Canada

Publisher of nominated edition:

Douglas & McIntyre, Canada

The Return

Dany Laferrière    

Translated from the original French by David Homel

Longlist 2013

From the Prix Médicis winner comes a haunting meditation on the nature of identity.

Dany Laferrière’s most celebrated book since How to Make Love to a Negro, The Return is a bestseller in France and Quebec and the winner of many awards, including the prestigious Prix Médicis and the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal.

At age 23, the narrator, Dany, hurriedly left behind the stifling heat of Port-au-Prince for the unending winter of Montreal. It was 1976, and Baby Doc Duvalier’s regime had just killed one of his journalist colleagues. Thirty-three years later, a telephone call informs Dany of his father’s death in New York. Windsor Laferrière had fled Haiti in the 1960s, fearing persecution for his political activities. After the funeral, Dany plans to return his father to Baradères, the village in Haiti where he was born. It is not the body he will take, but the spirit.

How does one return from exile? In acutely observed details, Dany reveals his affection for his father and for the land of his birth. Translated by two-time Governor General’s Award–winner David Homel, The Return blends the gritty reality of daily life with the lush sensuality and ecstatic mystery that underlie Haitian culture. It is the novel of a great writer.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Journalist, TV and radio host, screenwriter, director and spokesperson for World Book and Copyright Day, Dany Laferrière worked as a journalist in his native Haiti during the notorious Duvalier regime, immigrating to Canada in 1978 after a colleague with whom he was collaborating on a story was murdered. He settled in Montreal, where he worked at various low-paying jobs while writing his first novel, Comment fair l’amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer (1985) [How to Make Love to a Negro, 1987]. A semi-autobiographical account of an impoverished black immigrant and his attraction to white women, the book was a critical and commercial success, and was later made into a feature film and translated into several languages.

The author of nineteen novels, he has won several awards, among them the first Prix Carbet des lycéens 2000 for Le cri des oiseaux fous and the Prix RFO du Livre 2002 for Cette grenade dans la main du jeune nègre est-elle une arme ou un fruit? [Why Must a Black Writer Write about Sex?, 1995]. Laferrière won the 2006 Governor General award for Je suis fou de Vava, his first novel for children.

The inspiration for the award-winning film starring Charlotte Rampling, Heading South is Laferrière’s twelfth novel, a provocative book that explores the line between sexual liberation and exploitation. He is also the author of I am a Japanese Writer, a devilishly intelligent, sensual and hilarious tale of a blocked Montreal writer who one day learns that he is famous in Japan for having written a novel he never wrote. Originally from Petit-Goâve, Haiti, Dany Laferrière lives in Montreal.

Librarian’s Comments

A book of spare language and powerful images. A beautiful and engaging reading experience.

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