On January 12, 2010, novelist Dany Laferrière had just ordered dinner at a Port-au-Prince restaurant with a friend when the earthquake struck. He survived; some 300,000 others did not. The quake caused widespread destruction and left over 1 million homeless; it also revealed flaws in the impoverished nation's infrastructure that will take a generation from which to recover.
This moving and revelatory book is an eyewitness account of the quake and its aftermath. In a series of vignettes, Laferrière reveals the shock, rage, and grief experienced by those around him, the acts of heroism he witnessed, and his own sense of survivor guilt. At one point, his nephew, astonished at still being alive, asks his uncle not to write about "this," "this" being too horrible to give up so easily to those who were not there. But as a writer, Laferrière can't make such a promise. Still, the question is raised: to whom does this disaster belong? Who gets to talk and write about it? In this way, this book is not only the chronicle of a natural disaster; it is also a personal meditation about the responsibility and power of the written word in a manner that echoes certain post-Holocaust books.
The book also includes a foreword by Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada and Special Envoy for Haiti for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.