En faisant des recherches préparatoires pour ma série de conférences sur l’Histoire et la culture d’Haïti présentées dans le cadre des Belles Soirées de l’Université de Montréal («Haïti en trois temps»), je suis tombé l’autre jour, complètement par hasard, sur ce collectif publié sous la direction de Claudine Michel et Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, intitulé Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). À ma grande surprise, il était question de mon roman Zombi Blues dans «Vodou in Haitian Literature», l’article signé par Carol F. Coates, un universitaire américain que j’ai croisé il y a une quinzaine d’années dans un colloque à Toronto et qui avait précédemment traduit en anglais deux de mes textes pour la revue Callaloo et pour l’anthologie Ancestral House: The Black Short Story in the Americas and Europe. Et voici ce que le professeur Coates avait à dire de mon thriller jazz:
Stanley Péan, a young Haitian writer living in Québec City, likes to establish a fictional world that partakes both of historical reality and of the supernatural. The scene of the first, introductory part of Zombi Blues (1996) is Port-au-Prince in 1971, just prior to the death of François Duvalier. At a moment when she was starving, a young Haitian mother agreed to let Mèt Minville have her twins, in exchange for food. The woman’s dying husband told her to get the boys back. She is wounded, however, either by the makout or by the henchmen of Mèt Minville. Evading her pursuers, she gets a Canadian woman to take charge of the one baby that she has gotten away from Mèt Minville. The Haitian mother dies and the rest of the novel takes place in Montréal in 1986-1987. [NDA: Le professeur Coates a tort ici; en fait, l’action du roman se situe en 1996.]
There is not time to deal with the intricately woven plot of the novel. Let it suffice to say that two apparently unrelated groups of characters turn out to be associated with the two separated marasa, who are now young men. Gaby d’ArqueAngel is a jazz musician working in Montréal. Caliban, or “Gran Blan,” is the albino servant of Mèt Minville, who has come to Montréal to seek asylum, after the dechoukaj of Baby Doc, in 1986. The reader eventually finds out that Gaby’s visions and Caliban’s headaches result from their marasa relationship and the fact that, when they were babies, Mèt Minville administered a potion that gave each virtually superhuman strength. The denouement of the novel is a fight between the two marasa, a titanic struggle between good and evil.
Stanley Péan has inscribed the power of the spirits and the supernatural in a novel that is completely based in the contemporary realities of Haitian history and the Montréal jazz scene. An aspect of the novel with which I do not have the expertise to deal is that Stanley Péan has structured his novel not only within the culture of Haitian sorcery but also within the culture of jazz, naming each unnumbered chapter after a specific work played by well-known musicians such as Theolonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Winston [sic] Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and others. The important aspect of the Vodou ambiance is that Péan posits the reality of psychokinetic relations between the marasa.
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