Current Francophone Haitian literature

Colonised by the Spanish and then the French until its successful revolution and independence in 1804, Haiti plays an important role within Francophone literature. However, it still bears the traces of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake (which claimed between 100,000 and 300,000 lives), followed by an extended period of political uncertainty and upheaval. This was further aggravated by the 2016 Hurricane Matthew (which, though less lethal, left 175,000 people homeless). This series of disasters has meant that at Cambridge University Library, sourcing books published in Haiti has been challenging. Over several years, our regional supplier Libros Latinos was not able to travel to the country. However, as is often the case for Francophone literature, many Haitian authors are also published in Canada and France, whether they are still residing in Haiti or have emigrated.

One example is the writer and publisher Rodney Saint-Éloi, born in Haiti, who founded the publishing house Mémoire, as well as the magazine Cultura and the journal Boutures. He moved to Québec in 2001, is a member of the Académie des Lettres du Québec, and in 2003 created the publishing house Mémoire d’encrier, based on the principle of cultural diversity:

Mémoire d’encrier publie des auteur.e.s québécois.e.s, autochtones, antillais.e.s, arabes, africain.e.s… représentant ainsi une large plate-forme où se confrontent les imaginaires dans l’apprentissage et le respect de la différence et de la diversité culturelle. Continue reading

New acquisitions from Haiti

The collections of the University Library contain a comprehensive selection of works by major French writers, with a special emphasis on authors currently taught or researched at the University of Cambridge.  The geographical coverage of the collections is particularly wide, including not only France, but areas that are or have been under French influence, such as French overseas territories and former French colonies. The Library actively continues to acquire works which are significant in the contemporary Francophone world.

Books from Haiti

Books from Haiti

The vast majority of the books in French that we purchase are published in France itself. The French publishing industry is active and prolific– we buy books from France on a broad variety of subjects. However, we do not confine our book purchasing to France. In addition, we actively seek out books from other countries where books are published in French. In a sequence of blog posts we will try to give an idea of the Library’s collecting activity from French sub-Saharan Africa, French-speaking Canada, Réunion and Mauritius, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Acquisition from some of these areas is very straightforward, but from others it is rather problematic. Countries may publish extensively in French, but distribution networks are very poor, even in the 21st century. It is difficult to find out what is being published, and even harder in some cases to acquire the material.

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