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#1107: Novel by J.S. Alexis : Vedrine comments and sends announcement

From: E Vedrine <evedrine@hotmail.com>

[Jacques Stephen Alexis: General Sun, My Brother

A Press Release :
General Sun, My Brother

"How exciting to have Jacques Stephen Alexis' masterpiece, Compère Général 
Soleil, finally translated in English for a whole new generation of readers 
to enjoy, question, and admire. This is another chance for all of us to 
continue to celebrate this brave and timeless narrative  remember this most 
committed and enormously talented writer." (Edwidge Danticat, author of 
Farming the Bones)

The first novel of the Haitian novelist Jacques Stephen Alexis, General Sun, 
My Brother appears here for the first time in English. Its depiction of the 
nightmarish journey of the unskilled laborer Hilarion and his wife from the 
slums of Port-au-Prince to the cane fields of the Dominican Republic has 
brought comparisons to the work of Emile Zola, André Malraux, Richard 
Wright, and Ernest Hemingway.

Alexis, whose mother was a descendant of the Revolutionary General
Jean-Jacques Dessalines, was already a mature thinker when he published 
General Sun, My Brother (Compère Général Soleil) in France in 1955. A 
militant Marxist himself, Alexis championed a form of the "marvelous 
realism" developed by the Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier, who called for a 
vision of historical reality from the standpoint of slaves for whom the 
supernatural was as much a part of everyday experience as were social and 
other existential realities.

General Sun, My Brother opens as Hilarion is arrested for stealing a wallet 
and imprisoned with an activist named Pierre Roumel-a fictional double for 
the novelist Jacques Roumain--who schools him in the Marxist view of 
history. On his release, Hilarion meets Claire-Heureuse and they settle down 
together. Hilarion labors in sisal processing and mahogany polishing while 
his partner sets up a small grocery store. After losing everything in a 
criminally set fire, the couple joins the desperate emigration to the 
Dominican Republic.  Hilarion finds work as a sugarcane cutter, but the 
workers soon become embroiled in a strike that ends in the "Dominican 
Vespers,"  the 1937 massacre of Haitian workers by the Dominican army. The 
novel personifies the sun as the ally, brother, and leader of the peasants.
Mortally wounded in crossing the Massacre River back into Haiti, Hilarion 
urges Claire-Heureuse to remarry and to continue to work for a Haiti where 
people can live in dignity and peace.

Jacques Stephen Alexis had already gained international recognition for his 
fiction when he returned to Haiti from Cuba in 1961 as part of a small 
invasion force. He disappeared and presumably died at the
hands of Duvalier's Tontons Macoutes at the age of thirty-nine.

Carrol F. Coates is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the 
State University of New York, Ninghamton. He has translated numerous books, 
including The Festival of the Greasy Pole, by René
Depestre, and Dignity, by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, both published by the 
University Press of Virginia in Charlottesville.

     CARAF Books
     Cloth ISBN 0-8139-1889-8
     Paper ISBN 0-8139-1890-1 ]

Visit http://windowsonhaiti.com

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