- Paperback: 224 pages
- Published: 7/1/14
- IBSN: 9781617752407
- e-IBSN: 9781617752797
- Genre: Fiction
This mesmerizing, lyrical debut explores the lives of Haitian families aspiring to escape hardship and an earthquake’s devastation.
“An arresting account of the contemporary Haitian-American experience.”
“This novel in short stories will appeal to readers of literary and Caribbean fiction.”
—Library Journal, Xpress Reviews
“Ulysse displaces and redeems her characters with formidable skill, while her precise cuts through all preconceptions . . . . Intense and necessary.”
“Humanity is lost and found in these stories . . . Ulysse has created a fascinating world of class and cultural distinctions; her stories are engaging.”
“Assimilating qualities of Danticat and Alvarez, Ulysse paints a variegated literary tableau, more sociological than psychological or historical, that translates into fiction the reality, as well as the fragility and vivacity, of life for young Haitian American women of few means.”
—World Literature Today
“A superb novel in the form of interconnected short stories that follow Haitian families as they move between time and place, before and after the devastating earthquake of 2010.”
—Teaching Tolerance Magazine, Summer 2015 Staff Pick
“Drifting transcends escapism, materialism, and gaudy promises. Ulysse’s incisively details her thesis in flashes—short, brisk sentences. This is no easy task, but she pulls it off with flawless ease, sealing her claim to pure artistry. Traversing the Atlantic multiple times, she captures the spirit and letter of the diasporic experience . . . Highly recommended.”
“Powerful, piercing and unforgiving . . . Ulysse’s prosaic brilliance is unmistakable.”
—Kaieteur News (Guyana)
“Captivating and honest. . . . This novel is a win-win for anyone who enjoys character development just as much as plot.”
—The Review Lab (Columbia College Chicago)
“Drifting is an intoxicating account of various short stories by Haitian novelist and literary genius Katia D. Ulysse . . . highly recommended.”
—Black Star News
“Ulysse paints a vivid picture of customs, culture, and experiences. And like the characters, readers are engulfed in a vast array of emotions.”
—OOSA Online Book Club
“A good, worthwhile read.”
“Katia D. Ulysse has written an engaging debut novel, Drifting. . . . Drawing on rural Haiti, the class system, Vodou and folklore, Ulysse shows how immigrating to the US, while often seen as the only real option, does not always retain or strengthen families or improve one’s economic station.”
—The World is Robert
“Drifting is a remarkable debut by a phenomenal writer. Much like Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, this sublime and powerful book allows us to experience the joys and tragedies of ordinary and extraordinary lives, in small neighborhoods and big cities, in the present and the past. Katia D. Ulysse’s talent soars higher and higher to expand both our hearts and our universe.”
—Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light
“We already know that the Haitian-American community can produce some of our very finest fiction writers. With Drifting, Katia D. Ulysse proves that point once again, evoking the immigrant experience with delicacy, gravity, and pathos. Refreshing and arresting on the first read, this book will be remembered for a long time to come.”
—Madison Smartt Bell, author of The Color of Night
“In Drifting, Katia Ulysse delves into the complex lives of girls and young women. With boldness and clarity she shows us what she finds: the fears, cruelties, and humiliations of their childhood; disturbing feelings of longing, jealousy, and grief; an intense struggle to make sense of the unfathomable world of adults; and above all a determination to survive. In clear prose, Katia Ulysse tells the tangled truth of life and brings a sensitive eye to bear on complicated, flawed characters in circumstances at once everyday and extraordinary. These themes of displacement, struggle, renewal, and redemption are tough, piercing, and true, and they bear the mark of a gifted writer.”
—Michèle Voltaire Marcelin
Also check out Haiti Noir, featuring “The Last Department” by Katia D. Ulysse.
Katia D. Ulysse’s debut provides the rare opportunity to peer into the private lives of four secretive Haitian families. The interwoven narrative spans four decades—from 1970 through 2010—and drifts among various provinces in Haiti, the United States, churches, vodun temples, schools, strip clubs, and the grave. Ulysse introduces us to a childless Haitian American couple risking it all for a baby to call their own; a Florida-based predatory schoolteacher threatening students with deportation if they expose him; and the unforgettable Monsieur Boursicault, whose chain of funeral parlors makes him the wealthiest man in Haiti. This daring work of fiction is a departure from the standard narrative of political unrest on the island. Ulysse’s characters are everyday people whose hopes for distant success are constantly challenged—but never totally swayed—by the hard realities accompanying the immigrant’s journey.
To celebrate the release of Haiti Noir 2: The Classics, edited by Edwidge Danticat, we asked contributors from both of our Haiti Noir volumes to participate in an exquisite corpse style story—a serial story in which each participant builds off of what the previous participants have written—to create an original piece of fiction with a decidedly dark tone. Check out the fourth installment of “Dark Days in Port-au-Prince,” written by Haiti Noir contributor Katia D. Ulysse.
Click here to read a post by Katia D. Ulysse on writing short stories at E. Kristin Anderson’s blog.
Read a letter from Katia D. Ulysse to her teen self at Dear Teen Me.
Read an excerpt from Drifting at The Airship/Black Balloon Publishing.
Listen to a radio appearance by Katia D. Ulysse at Public Storyteller (WLRM FM, South Florida).
Click here to read a story by Katia D. Ulysse about a Haitian grandmother’s home at the Miami Herald.
Read “Happy Old Year,” an original story by Katia D. Ulysse, at Cornbread and Cremasse.
Check out a feature on Katia D. Ulysse at the Montclair Times-Tribune.
Click here to read Katia D. Ulysse’s special tribute to David Bowie.
Click here to read Katia D. Ulysse’s call for a new narrative of Haiti at the Children’s Book Council Diversity blog.
KATIA D. ULYSSE was born in Haiti, and moved to the United States as a teen. Her writings have been published in numerous literary journals, including the Caribbean Writer, Meridians, Calabash, Peregrine, and Smartish Pace, among others. Her work has also appeared in The Butterfly’s Way and Haiti Noir. Her first children’s book, Fabiola Can Count, was published in 2013. Ulysse lives in Maryland with her husband and daughter. When she’s not reading, writing fiction, gardening, or teaching, she blogs on VoicesfromHaiti.com. Drifting is her first book of fiction.