Repatriates by Néhémy Pierre-Dahomey
Belliqueuse Louissaint, a young, intrepid Haitian woman attempts a clandestine crossing of the Caribbean Sea to start a new life in the United States. The voyage costs her two-year old son his life, while Belliqueuse is caught by the Coast Guard and returned to Haiti, where she is obliged to make a home on a scrap of wasteland allocated by the state to failed illegal migrants. The living conditions in this neighbourhood of boat people force Belliqueuse to take the heartbreaking decision to put her two daughters, Bélial and Luciole, up for adoption. Luciole is adopted by an elderly Canadian couple, while Bélial goes to live in France under the guardianship of Pauline, a veteran aid worker for whom the child provides a new reason for living. Several years pass before one of the daughters returns to Haiti, only to find that her mother has disappeared.
Néhémy Pierre-Dahomey’s delightful, tightly crafted prose conjures vivid images of life in contemporary Haiti for ordinary people, as he depicts the close networks of friends, family and church. The novel has added contemporary relevance in light of the furore surrounding Oxfam.
Néhémy Pierre-Dahomey was born in Port-au-Prince in 1986 and now lives in Paris, where he is studying philosophy. Repatriates is his first novel.