I Am Alive

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University of Virginia Press, 2022 - Fiction - 150 pages
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I Am Alive (Je suis vivant) is celebrated Haitian author Kettly Mars's latest novel, telling the story of a bourgeois Caribbean family as it wrestles with issues of mental illness, unconventional sexuality, and the difficulty of returning home and rediscovery following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Mars, herself a survivor of the disaster, has crafted a complex, at times disorienting, but ultimately enthralling and powerfully evocative work of literature that adds to her reputation as one of the leading voices of the francophone world.

When the mental health facility where he has been living for decades is severely damaged, Alexandre Bernier must return home to Fleur-de-Chêne. His sister Marylène has also come home, leaving behind a flourishing career as a painter in Brussels, and begins to explore her sexuality with her artist's model Norah, who poses for her in secret. These homecomings are both a lift and a burden to the family matriarch, Éliane, a steadfast and resourceful widow. Over the course of the novel, past and present blend together as each character has an opportunity to narrate the story from their own perspective. In the end, it is the resilience of the Haitian people that allows them to navigate the seismic shifts in their family and in the land.

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About the author (2022)

Kettly Mars is an award-winning writer and poet from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and the author of Savage Seasons.

Nathan H. Dize is Visiting Assistant Professor of French at Oberlin College.

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