In 1937 the power-mad racist Generalissimo Trujillo ordered the slaughter of thousands and thousands of Haitians and, as Philoctete puts it, death set up shop everywhere. At the heart of Massacre River is the loving marriage of the Dominican Pedro and the Haitian Adele in a little town on the Dominican border. On his way to work, Pedro worries that a massacre is in the makIn 1937 the power-mad racist Generalissimo Trujillo ordered the slaughter of thousands and thousands of Haitians and, as Philoctete puts it, death set up shop everywhere. At the heart of Massacre River is the loving marriage of the Dominican Pedro and the Haitian Adele in a little town on the Dominican border. On his way to work, Pedro worries that a massacre is in the making; an olive-drab truck packed with armed soldiers rumbles by. And then the church bells begin to ring, and there is the relentless voice on the radio everywhere, urging the slaughter of all the Haitians. Operation Cabezas Haitianas (Haitian Heads) is underway, the soldiers shout, "Perejil! [Parsley!] Perish! Punish!" Haitians try to pronounce "perejil" correctly, but fail, and weep. The town is in an uproar, Adele is ordered to say "perejil" but stammers. And Pedro runs home and searches for his beloved wife, searches and searches " The characters of this book not only inspired the love and outrage of an extraordinary writer like Philoctete," writes Edwige Danticat, "but continue to challenge the meaning of community and humanity in all of us."...
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Massacre River Reviews
"What isn't possible when power turns stupid?"We people from over here and over there—we are, in the end, the people of a single land.The Caribbean island of Hispaniola is shared by two countries, Haiti to the west and the much larger Dominican Republic to the east. The two nations are separated by a latitudinal border, part of which is formed by the Dajabon River, which is also known as Massacre River. Haiti is populated primarily by its African descendants, and it is the poorest country in the Caribbean and the Americas; the Dominican Republic contains a much richer mixture of people from Spain and other European countries, East and West Asia, and other Caribbean countries, including Haiti, and it has the second largest economy in the Caribbean.Both countries have longstanding histories of colonization and subjugation by Western powers, violent civil wars, oppressive dictators, and bloody border battles. Because of the long porous border and the marked difference in the economies and standards of living of the two nations, Haitians have for years crossed over to the Dominican Republic to find work and better lives for themselves, and particularly in the border towns they often established friendship and not infrequently found love with their Dominican neighbors.In 1930 the notorious dictator General Rafael Trujillo was "elected" president of the Dominican Republic, after a violent campaign in which many of his opponents were eliminated. Trujillo held great admiration for Adolf Hitler, particularly his views on racial purity, and later in that decade he declared the Dominican Republic was a country of white people, in stark contrast to its black neighbors to the west but also in opposition to his country's mixed race majority. The blancos de la tierra (whites of the land) were revered and rewarded, whereas darker skinned Dominicans were reviled and punished.As part of this effort, Trujillo embarked on a campaign to rid the country of as many Haitians as possible, supposedly to prevent them from robbing their Dominican neighbors, but in actuality to achieve greater racial purity. He focused this effort on the border between the two nations, especially the region adjacent to Massacre River, and in a six day campaign of terror in October 1937 tens of thousands of Haitians were brutally murdered by soldiers in the Dominican Army. This act of genocide became known as the Parsley Massacre, as Dominican soldiers would show dark skinned residents of the border towns a sprig of parsley, and ask them to say the word for it in Spanish, perejil. The Creole speaking Haitians often could not pronounce the word properly, and those who failed to do so were beheaded with machetes on the spot, or taken to fields where they were executed by firing squads.Massacre River is a novel about the Parsley Massacre, which is centered around a young couple who are deeply in love with each other, the Dominican Pedro Brito and his beautiful Haitian wife Adèle, who live close to the river. A premonition of the massacre comes in the form of an ominous large raptor, which swoops over and shadows the town and its residents. As the townspeople become aware of Trujillo's plans, Adèle becomes fearful for her own safety. Pedro attempts to comfort her and allieviate her concerns, and leaves her at home to go to work on the fateful day that soldiers enter the town. As word comes in on the radio of the massacre that is taking place, with the death toll in each town enthusiastically announced by broadcasters, Pedro rushes to get back home to find out what has happened to Adèle. When he returns he and other workers are met with a surreal and horrific scene, as the heads of the massacre's victims bounce around the bloodied town, giving voice to the day's events and demanding justice for the atrocities inflicted upon them by singing machetes swung by men loyal to Trujillo, "the Lord of demented death".Massacre River is a superb story, which uses magical realism to both blunt the gruesome details and highlight the profound effects of the Parsley Massacre on Haitians and their Dominican neighbors. It is also a touching love story and, oddly enough, it contains an element of humor, which would seem to be inappropriate in the face of genocide but actually permits a view of the humanity of the Haitian and Dominican people and their respect and love for each other, which is unaffected by this tragedy. René Philoctète, the novel's author, was one of the most revered authors in Haiti, but to date this is the only novel of his that has been translated into English, and he is not well known outside of the Caribbean. I enjoyed this unique and entertaining novel, and I hope that more of his work will be translated into English in the near future.
This is book is pure poetry, so revealing of the beauty and the suffering of Haitians, the stupidity of a dictatorship and the complicity of the Haitian politicians.The love between a good-hearted Dominican and a beautiful Haitian girl, speaks of what the relationship between the to halves of the island should be. For all my Dominican brothers and sisters out there. READ. THIS. BOOK."... And why should we believe that rivers go home every evening to the milky way? That spring peas are breast of girls who died young? That if the moon doesn't scoot out of the way soon, it'll get colonized? That every haitian has a drum in his belly? Every puerto rican a fountain in his laughter? Every cuban a sunbeam in throat? Every jamaican rum in his eyes? Every dominican a heaven between his legs?whoa chica loca, i am getting carried away..."--RENE PHILOCTETE, one of Haiti's most beautiful sons.
Very moving account of the 1937 massacre. The main chatacters are Pedro Brito, a Dominican and Adele Benjamin, a Haitian. They symbolize the union of the Haitian and Dominican people. Meanwhile, Trujillo's motivation for the mssacre is explained through his obsession with the Citadelle. His inability to possess it causes him to create the blancos de la tierra myth and eventually order the massacre. I know that may seem strange, but it works in this book. I've taught this book several times now in my contemporary Haitian literature class. It works with the migration, love/sexuality and conflict themes. Other themes explored in the book are madness and workers' rights. Teaching again this semester along with The Farming of Bones and L'autre face de la mer. I hate that this actually ties in to current events.
This is a very dense book. The author uses a complex narration technique that weaves in and out of first and third person with heavy doses of magical realism. A passionate love story is at the center of this tale which also features Trujillo's horrific Parsley Massacre as the book's backdrop. This is an intense read that I found hard follow at first, but once I got into the rhythm of the story, I got into it.
Enjoyable book about a difficult time period in Haiti and Dominican Republic's history - slaughter of Haitians along the border by DR army patrols. The writer is very descriptive and story takes on an almost whimsical air regarding death.Part of Around The World In Fiction, writer is born and lived almost entire life in Haiti.
i wish i read haitian creole and a lil french...translations are not my favorite...if you liked 100 years of solitude's attitude of magic realism, this story will captivate you...The original title is, Le Peuple des Terres Melees...
Poetic, feels a little lost in translation.
Novela espiralista sobre la masacre de 1937 en la frontera domínico-haitiana. De una prosa poética con pasajes muy bien logrados.