Évelyne Trouillot’s novels, short stories, poetry, children’s stories, and play—not to mention her interviews, op. ed. pieces, and academic articles—introduce us to chapters of Haiti’s history spanning roughly two hundred and fifty years. From a plantation in the former French colony of Saint-Domingue during the 1750s to present-day, postearthquake Haiti, the experiences, trials, and tragically haunting memories of her characters serve to bring into focus countless rifts in the country’s complex and often conflicted past. Despite the turbulent time periods in which we discover these protagonists, and the resulting adversity to which they are prone, their struggles are not waged on battlefields; nor do they lead to conspicuous positions of power befitting heroines or, alternately, to the imprisonment or execution of would-be martyrs. For as quintessential as the Vodou ceremony of the Bois Caïman, the decisive Battle of Vertières, or the notorious Fort Dimanche are to understanding Haiti’s past, Trouillot’s characters have not (yet, at least) appeared at the forefront of these or other similarly iconic places and events in the country’s history. Instead, they emerge in what might be considered the chambres interdites of Haiti’s past—places that have remained closed, hidden, or merely overlooked within and by the country’s dominant historical narratives.
This document was originally published in Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International by SUNY Press. Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.1353/pal.2019.0000
Herbeck, Jason. (2019). "History, Humanity, and the Literary Construction of Haiti in Évelyne Trouillot’s Works". Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International, 8(1), 7-10. https://dx.doi.org/10.1353/pal.2019.0000