The main narrator is Cocotte, born to a black peasant woman in the mountains. After being baptized with her "sister", Violaine, Cocotte is brought as a child to be a "restavek", a servant in Violaine's upperclass home. Tragedy results from Violaine's love affair with Alexandre, a young, black revolutionary who has returned from abroad to assist in an attempt to overthrow President-for-Life, Francois Duvalier. A family council decrees that Violaine will be zombified in order to prevent her from further disgracing her family and class. The Duvalier regime suppresses the attempted revolution with decisive force, killing or imprisoning the participants. The fate of these young people symbolizes the immobilization of the Haitian people by a minority of politicians who continue to hold the society prisoner, subject to their own fears and prejudices, two hundred years after the slaves defeated Napoleon's army and declared the independence of the Republic of Haiti.
Desquiron was born into a prominent mulatto family in Jeremie. For reasons of safety as well as education, her family sent her as an adolescent to study in Belgium and France. The novel is a very personal account of a young woman's adherence to folk beliefsand resistance to the prejudices of her class. Although a number of Haitian novels evoke scenes of Vodou, Desquiron is the first writer to have inscribed a story so completely within popular religious and cultural beliefs.
About the Author
Lilas Desquiron lives in Paris, where she has been a film critic and scriptwriter for television and is currently working on Joute d'Amour, a volume of short stories. Robin Orr Bodkin has designed on-line language courses, computer-assisted language programs, and is now undertaking the translation of the texts of a CD-ROM tour of the Louvre. Marie-Agnes Sourieau is Assistant Professor of French at Fairfield University and specializes in the study and teaching of francophone literature.