For Haitian Flag Day, I decided to read Roxane Gay’s collection of short stories entitled Ayiti which is the Kreyol translation for: Haiti. In all honesty, there’s probably no one else that I would want to read a collection of short stories regarding Haiti and its culture than from a fellow Haitian-American writer such Roxane Gay. I found the collection to be captivating, concise and culturally relevant on all fronts.
In the chapter, About My Father’s Accent, it gave me a warm feeling of home. Having parents who were born and raised in Haiti, I grew up hearing their accents so I could hear the pronunciations of words that Gay perfectly described in the text as clear as day. It made me laugh in a child-like way while also reminding me of the pain I felt in my childhood when kids would tease me for their accents, specifically my father’s. In my mind, teasing my dad was from a loving place and anyone else doing it was unacceptable.
Another story, I enjoyed was There’s no E in Zombi which speaks to Haitian culture involving Voodoo. I’m glad this was included because one of the first things that comes into someone’s mind, for some reason, when I say that I’m Haitian is voodoo. Gay hilariously attempts to explain the proper pronunciation of the word and what letters require emphasis. The love story component was my favorite, however, because it resembled Haitian folklore, stories and cautionary tales that are passed through generations. A girl falls in love, he does not love her in return so she has no choice but to turn the love of her life into a zombi (that’s right – no e!)
I don’t want to continue to spoil the collection of short stories for you but I am honestly so glad this was the first work of Roxane Gay that I have read so far. She is a phenomenal writer and I feel as though she did Haiti the justice in its depiction that has been lacking in other stories. It’s concise and incredibly enlightening for those who want a glimpse into Haitian culture for what it truly is and not what the media has portrayed it to be. If you are a fan of Roxane Gay’s work, if you are Haitian, or if you’re just looking for a good, bite-sized read definitely go check out Ayiti by Roxane Gay.