From the Archives: Moving Around Me

By Susan Harris

To whom does the story of the Haitian earthquake belong? Whose is it to tell, and in what form? Haitian writer and longtime Montreal resident Dany Laferrière was in Port-au-Prince for a literary festival when the quake struck. His "The World Is Moving Around Me," from our November 2011 issue of writing from the Caribbean, records his impressions of the aftermath. When he tells his nephew he plans to write about the disaster, the younger man shyly reveals that he does, too, and would prefer that his uncle not. The earthquake "is the event of his time," not Laferrière's: he can write a journal, but not a novel. Laferrière declines to promise—"It doesn't work like that. . . . One book doesn't take the place of another"—but acknowledges that that sort of novel is not "up his alley." Besides, "[N]ature has already written it. This grandiose novel in the classical style features a place (Haiti), a time (4:53 p.m.), and more than two million characters." On this third anniversary of the quake, it's clear we still don't know how the story ends.

 


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