Legendary Haitian author Depestre combines magic, fantasy, eroticism, and delirious humor to explore universal questions of race and sexuality.
René Depestre, born in 1926, is one of the most important voices of Haitian literature. A peer of seminal figures like Aimé Césaire, Pablo Neruda, and André Breton, Depestre has engaged with the politics/aesthetics of negritude, social realism, and surrealism for more than half a century. Having lived through significant moments in Haitian and New World history—from the overthrow of Haitian dictator Élie Lescot in 1946, to the first Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris in 1956, to a struggle with Haiti’s François “Papa Doc” Duvalier in 1957, to a collaboration with Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and a fraught relationship with Fidel Castro in the 1960s and ’70s—Depestre is uniquely positioned to reflect on the extent to which the Americas and Europe are implicated in Haiti’s past and present. He is the author of Hadriana in All My Dreams. Author Photo by Jacques Sassier © Editions Gallimard