The Roving Tree

( 2 )

Overview


One of the South Florida Times's Best Bets For Your Weekend!

Essence Magazine: Summer Reading Pick!

"Augustave, a first-time novelist, pens a well-balanced story about a young woman, caught between two worlds, who struggles to connect with her heritage...a polished narrative that addresses racism and cultural and class differences and provides a wealth of information about vaudou beliefs."
--Kirkus Reviews

"With her skillful incorporation of ...

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The Roving Tree

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Overview


One of the South Florida Times's Best Bets For Your Weekend!

Essence Magazine: Summer Reading Pick!

"Augustave, a first-time novelist, pens a well-balanced story about a young woman, caught between two worlds, who struggles to connect with her heritage...a polished narrative that addresses racism and cultural and class differences and provides a wealth of information about vaudou beliefs."
--Kirkus Reviews

"With her skillful incorporation of literary realism, Augustave brilliantly synthesizes the cultural richness of Haitian Vodou and the impoverished socio-political affairs of Haiti, along with the acidic polluted gush of racism that is deeply drenched in American society."
--Haitian Times

"Augustave creates a stunning tale with beautiful language that dwells in the realm of magical realism...The characters are rich, complicated and full of color and nuance."
--Mosaic Magazine

"A gorgeous new novel about a Haitian adoptee finding her way in many different corners of the world."
--Edwidge Danticat, in the New York Times‘s By the Book feature

"A fulfilling, exciting and ultra-lyrical read, The Roving Tree is really a novel about a lost soul's identity quest."
--Kreyolicious.com

"The Roving Tree is both a song and a social essay. It provides a window on a world and rounds out by circling back to the prologue."
--Asheville Citizen-Times

"Augustave...illustrates the devastating rootlessness of cultural disaffiliation."
--World Literature Today

"A fresh new voice who adds her own charming, beguiling brand of lyricism to the growing body of Haitian American stories. The Roving Tree is a unique and fascinating book, and I for one look forward to hearing more from this writer."
--Lorna Goodison, author of From Harvey River

"A beautiful, layered, nuanced story about a woman finding herself."
--NBC COZI TV

"A great journey...quite enjoyable well worth the read."
--HIP Magazine

"It's this attention to a blend of social issues, politics and transformation that enrich The Roving Tree and give it the kind of dimension and depth missing from singular stories of either adoptees or immigrants from other cultures."
--Midwest Book Review

"A well-written story with fleshed-out characters who are very much products of their time....This story made me realize how much of a force of nature ordinary people can be."
--Idle Musings

"I cannot begin to describe how deeply moved I was by The Roving Tree...completely worth a read. Simply stated, it's a blessing."
--Read at Home Mama

Elsie Augustave's debut novel, The Roving Tree, explores multiple themes: separation and loss, rootlessness, the impact of class privilege and color consciousness, and the search for cultural identity. The central character, Iris Odys, is the offspring of Hagathe, a Haitian maid, and Brahami, a French-educated mulatto father who cares little about his child.

Hagathe, who had always dreamt of a better life for her child, is presented with the perfect opportunity when Iris is five years old. Adopted by a white American couple, an anthropologist and art gallery owner, Iris is transported from her tiny remote Haitian village, Monn Neg, to an American suburb.

The Roving Tree illuminates how imperfectly assimilated adoptees struggle to remember their original voices and recapture their personal histories and cultural legacy. Set between two worlds, suburban America and Haiti under the oppressive regime of Papa Doc's Tanton Macoutes, the novel offers a unique literary glimpse into the deeply entrenched class discrimination and political repression of Haiti during the Duvalier era, along with the subtle but nonetheless dangerous effects of American racism.

Told from beyond the grave, Iris seamlessly shares her poignant and pivotal life experiences. The Roving Tree, underscored by the spiritual wisdom of Haitian griots, offers insightful revelations of the importance of significant relationships with family and friends. Years later, we see how these elements are transformative to Iris's intense love affair, and her personal and professional growth. Universal truths resonate beyond the pages of this work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Augustave is a talented writer who brings her varied characters to life and shows readers parts of the world that few of us have experienced. Her book is an excellent anecdote to books about immigration that, intentionally or not, present the western world as the favored or inevitable destination...I strongly recommend The Roving Tree to all those who are interested in Haiti, Zaire, and African traditions more generally."
--Me, You, and Books

"The beauty of this book lies in its simplicity. An engaging read that packs a powerful punch."
--Historical Novel Review

"The Roving Tree is Elsie Augustave's debut novel, and I can't wait to see what she writes next. Augustave writes beautifully and it's obvious that she cares a lot about the subject matter she chooses. I definitely recommend The Roving Tree to anyone who likes reading literary fiction and/or to anyone who is interested in the ideas and history portrayed in the book."
--Between the Covers

"The Roving Tree is truly an enthralling debut novel that deserves a wide audience; readers will undoubtedly be enriched by their engagement with it."
--SX Salon

"It is fucking effortless, this whole story. Absolutely beautifully written and latches onto your brain straight away."
--BookCunt

Kirkus Reviews
Augustave, a first-time novelist, pens a well-balanced story about a young woman, caught between two worlds, who struggles to connect with her heritage. Iris Odys grew up in a world vastly different from the one in which she was born. When she dies shortly after giving birth, her final wish is that the story of her life be related to her daughter so that she will understand who she is. When Hagathe, a maid who works for a wealthy family, returns to her Haitian village and gives birth to Iris, she ekes out a living for herself and her daughter, but life is not easy under the rule of "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his ever-present militia, the Tonton Macoute. After Hagathe is brutally assaulted, she makes a difficult decision: Concerned for her daughter's safety and future, she asks a visiting anthropologist and her husband to adopt 5-year-old Iris and take her to America. The Winstons, a wealthy Caucasian couple, already have one adopted daughter and readily agree to Hagathe's request. Raised in privilege by her loving and supportive parents, Iris assimilates into her new culture, but her need to understand her origins, to delve into the very essence of her existence, and to embrace not only herself, but her ancestors, is overpowering. Her godfather enrolls Iris in Haitian dance classes, and it's when she dances to the beating drums that she finally begins to connect to her roots. Entering college, Iris joins the Black Students Union and meets fellow Haitian Pépé, with whom she feels an immediate bond. A disturbing message from Haiti and information about her biological family compel Iris to return to Haiti, where she learns about her ancestors' mystical rituals and practices. Her decision to accept a job in Africa finally reconciles past, present and future when Iris falls in love with an older, politically powerful man who wishes to marry her. Augustave has created a polished narrative that addresses racism and cultural and class differences and provides a wealth of information about vaudou beliefs. A praiseworthy effort.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781617751653
  • Publisher: Akashic Books
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 1,158,597
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Elsie Augustave was born in Haiti and is a graduate of Middlebury College and Howard University with degrees in foreign language and literature. Her dedication to excellence in her field has been acknowledged through numerous international grants for continued studies allowing her to pursue her passion for culture in Senegal and France as a Fulbright Scholar. Among her many accomplishments, Augustave choreographed Elima Ngando, a major production for the prestigious National Dance Theater of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Augustave currently teaches French and Spanish at the renowned Stuyvesant High School in New York City, and is also a consultant for the College Board. The Roving Tree is her first novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Roving Tree is a poignant revelation about racial and cultur

    The Roving Tree is a poignant revelation about racial and cultural prejudices told through the eyes of a young black Haitian woman named Iris who is adopted by a white American family. Born into poverty and threatened by a black radical leader, Iris’ mother willingly gives up her young daughter to an American family in the hopes of protecting her and giving her a better life. The story then takes the reader through various circumstances and stages throughout the heroine’s life. It gives readers a strong perspective on how racial differences affect people. 
    Beyond the deep, underlying messages of religion, culture, social classes, and prejudice, there is a darn good story being told. One cannot help being engaged with Iris’ plight of being at the centre of two racial worlds. 
    The prose is written in first person, gentle and easy to read. The story unfolds in the present with clever use of flashbacks that reveal the past without breaking the flow of the story. I liked the Haitian/African background of the heroine because it brings about awareness of the social and political background of that country. Most of all, this is a novel about a young woman’s awakening to her roots as she travels from Haiti to American to Haiti and Africa. 
    The beauty of this book lies in its simplicity. An engaging read that packs a powerful punch. 

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    Posted January 10, 2015

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