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Hadriana in All My Dreams

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Legendary Haitian author Depestre combines magic, fantasy, eroticism, and delirious humor to explore universal questions of race and sexuality.

$18.95 $14.21

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What people are saying…

“The sights and sounds of Haiti’s vibrant carnival season invigorate this tale of vodou and Haitian culture . . . The truth of Hadriana’s fate proves more poignant than horrifying, but in Depestre’s hands, this incident is a touchstone of a culture in which distinctions between the empirical and spiritual are obscured, and whose traditional celebrations and beliefs introduce an element of the mythic into the everyday. Eroticism and humor course through his narrative. Depestre’s intimacy with his subject matter and his familiarity with the people he portrays—the story is set in his hometown, at the time when he was 12 years old—give readers an insider’s look at Jacmelian culture.”
Publishers Weekly

“One-of-a-kind . . . [A] ribald, free-wheeling magical-realist novel, first published in 1988 and newly, engagingly translated by Glover . . . An icon of Haitian literature serves up a hotblooded, rib-ticking, warmhearted mélange of ghost story, cultural inquiry, folk art, and véritable l’amour.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“It would take a long time to unwrap the many layers of metaphor in this ribald and colorful yet strangely haunting novel, written by a son of Haiti who was born in the seaside town of Jacmel, the very setting he so vividly describes here . . . By contrasting Haitian vodou with traditional Christianity, and pitting color and class lines against each other, Depestre presents a rich and nuanced exploration of large and significant themes expertly couched in one fantastical, expertly translated tale.”
Booklist, starred review

“For the first time, this slim and beguiling novel about the mysterious death and possible zombification of a young woman on her wedding day has been translated into English . . . With its lyrical commentary on the origins of myth, this mesmeric and frequently erotic work transcends its focus on a young woman to address the complexities of race, class and religion.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review

“Originally published in 1988 and written by one of Haiti’s seminal authors, still with us at age 90, this vibrant, erotically charged work shows how humans counter fear—particularly the fear of death—in varied more or less magical ways, even as it paints a fresh and enticing picture of Haitian culture . . . Luscious and affirmative reading, this is work both the serious-minded and the lighthearted can enjoy.”
Library Journal, starred review

“A novel in which the implications of race, gender, and religion bubble over, culminating in an irresistible work of social satire in which the bride transforms into a zombie just as she reaches the altar.”
Words Without Borders, One of 10 Translated Books from Haiti to Read Now

Hadriana In All My Dreams is a compelling monograph. Surreal and imaginative, it is written with a dark richness and poignancy that is void of sensationalism and hyperbole. This is fictional realism at its best, and author Rene Depestre proves his salt as a master craftsman.”
The Gleaner (Jamaica)

“Depestre, a grandfather of Haitian literature, spins a sensuous romp that serves up equal helpings of the historically contemplative and the handsomely entertaining . . . Hadriana in All My Dreams opens its narrative palm cheekily, cleverly, to reveal the kernel-truth of Jacmelian life, of a resurrected beauty’s power beyond pulchritude. It’s a story that contains its own universe, tucked irresistibly into an evening’s riotous, ruddy-cheeked read . . . suitable for sneaking into weddings and funerals alike.”
Caribbean Beat Magazine

“[An] incredible horror-fairy tale . . . Get this immediately.”
The Fright Stuff (BookRiot)

“Zombies, voodoo, and a sex-crazed boy–turned-butterfly are all facts of everyday life in Depestre’s . . . colorful, magic-suffused novel.”
Kirkus Reviews, Catherine Hickley’s Foreign Influence column

“The story is an extended love letter to author René Depestre’s hometown, its creole culture, its architecture, and its annual Carnival. Visitors to Jacmel can trace the exact route of the narrative through the streets of the town, and next to the crumbling, stately mansion Depestre depicted as Hadiana’s manor, a public staircase is decorated with a mosaic spelling out the opening lines of the novel.”
Caribbean Beat Magazine

“A slim and beautiful novel about death, sex, and Haitian myth . . . A dreamlike novel that blends eye-witness testimony to the possible zombification of Hadriana with the villagers’ erotic and fanciful half-memories of Haiti’s thorny history.”
—Kaiama L. Glover (translator), Chicago Review

“The story is beautifully written in lyrical prose . . . Readers interested in Haitian culture will appreciate this novel and will enjoy Depestre’s details about the voodoo culture as it was understood in the first half of the 20th century.”
Historical Novels Review

“An exceptional novel . . . Depestre’s masterpiece and one of the greatest examples of Haitian literature.”
New York Journal of Books

“The most important thing a work-in-translation can offer a reader [is] perspective on a place, people, and language we don’t immediately have access to, or one that runs counter to conventional, cliché narratives. Glover’s book does that in aces.”
Words Without Borders

“You’ve never read about a zombie like Hadriana. Transformed into the walking dead on her wedding day, Hadriana becomes part of popular legend, one imbued with magic, eroticism, and even humor.”

“You do not need to believe in zombies or Vodou to be carried away by this story—a metaphor for all forms of dispossession . . . René Depestre has gone beyond nostalgia to write a sumptuous love story.”
Le Monde


With a foreword by Edwidge Danticat. Translated from the French by Kaiama L. Glover.

Hadriana in All My Dreams, winner of the prestigious Prix Renaudot, takes place primarily during Carnival in 1938 in the Haitian village of Jacmel. A beautiful young French woman, Hadriana, is about to marry a Haitian boy from a prominent family. But on the morning of the wedding, Hadriana drinks a mysterious potion and collapses at the altar. Transformed into a zombie, her wedding becomes her funeral. She is buried by the town, revived by an evil sorcerer, then disappears into popular legend.

Set against a backdrop of magic and eroticism, and recounted with delirious humor, the novel raises universal questions about race and sexuality. The reader comes away enchanted by the marvelous reality of Haiti’s Vodou culture and convinced of Depestre’s lusty claim that all beings—even the undead ones—have a right to happiness and true love.

From the introduction by Edwidge Danticat:

Despestre offers us the kind of tale we rarely get in the hundreds of zombie stories featuring Haitians, stories set both inside and outside of Haiti. In Hadriana in All My Dreams we get both langaj—the secret language of Haitian Vodou—as well as the type of descriptive, elegiac, erotic, and satirical language, and the artistic license needed to create this most nuanced and powerful novel.

Read an excerpt from Hadriana in All My Dreams at Lit Hub.

Featured in Poets & Writers’s Page One Column.

Included in Speculative Fiction in Translation‘s New Releases roundup.

One of the 10 Best New Books to Read This May, Chicago Review of Books.

Read an excerpt from Hadriana in All My Dreams at Caribbean Beat Magazine

Hadriana in All My Dreams included as a July staff pick at City Lights Bookstore.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Published: 5/2/17
  • IBSN: 9781617755330
  • e-IBSN: 9781617755552
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617756191


EDWIDGE DANTICAT was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the editor of Haiti Noir, Haiti Noir 2: The Classics, and the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), Krik? Krak! (a National Book Award finalist), The Farming of Bones (an American Book Award winner), and the novel-in-stories The Dew Breaker. She has also written several young adult novels and a travel narrative, After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2007 winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant and she lives in Miami.

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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

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