Roxane Gay is an award-winning literary voice praised for her fearless and vivid prose, and her debut collection Ayiti exemplifies the raw talent that made her "one of the voices of our age" (National Post, Canada).
Clever and haunting by turns, Ayiti explores the Haitian diaspora experience. A married couple seeking boat passage to America prepares to leave their homeland. A mother takes a foreign soldier into her home as a boarder, and into her bed. And a woman conceives a daughter on the bank of a river while fleeing a horrific massacre, a daughter who later moves to America for a new life but is perpetually haunted by the mysterious scent of blood. Wise, fanciful, and daring, Ayiti is the book that put Roxane Gay on the map and now, with two previously uncollected stories, confirms her singular vision.
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About the Author
Praise for Ayiti
"The themes explored in Gay's nonfiction, such as the transactional nature of violence and the ways in which stereotypes of poverty add another layer of dehumanization, are just as potent here. Even her more lyrical mode is filtered through a keen sense of the lost promise of one country and the blinkered privilege of the other. It's Gay's unflinching directness--the sense that her characters are in the room with you, telling it like it is--that makes her irresistible."--Vogue
"Highly dimensioned characters and unforgettable moments . . . Dismantling the glib misconceptions of her complex ancestral home, Gay cuts and thrills. Readers will find her powerful first book difficult to put down."--Booklist
"A set of brief, tart stories mostly set amid the Haitian-American community and circling around themes of violation, abuse, and heartbreak . . . This book set the tone that still characterizes much of Gay's writing: clean, unaffected, allowing the (often furious) emotions to rise naturally out of calm, declarative sentences. That gives her briefest stories a punch even when they come in at two pages or fewer, sketching out the challenges of assimilation in terms of accents, meals, or 'What You Need to Know About a Haitian Woman.' . . . This debut amply contains the righteous energy that drives all her work."--Kirkus Reviews
"There is a chance that Roxane Gay has published something great every day for the last few years. That's why it's shocking that--although this will change in 2014, when she has two books slated for publication--this incredible little collection is her only proper book to date. When we make a new version of this list in five years, we imagine it will include several of her works."--Flavorwire
"Haiti has long been the most interesting country in the Americas. Its [Haiti's] better scribes, among them Edwidge Danticat, Franketienne, Madison Smartt Bell, Lyonel Trouillot, and Marie Vieux Chauvet, have produced some of the best literature in the world. Add to their ranks Roxane Gay, a bright and shining star. Ayiti is an exciting new chapter in an old and beautiful story."--Kyle Minor, author of In the Devil's Territory
"Gay. . . rests her stories between worlds, where the unrefined meet the formal, where the beauty of poetic language is never fully swept away from the dirt and grit of honest and genuine moments . . . A debut that feels more like a veteran."--Monkeybicycle
"Gay's characters demand respect, for themselves and for Haiti."--Necessary Fiction
"These are powerful stories written with verve and there's this great sense at the collection's close that nothing will stop the Haitian people, the human spirit, or Roxane Gay."--Ethel Rohan, author of Cut Through the Bone