Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

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This mesmerizing, lyrical debut explores the lives of Haitian families aspiring to escape hardship and an earthquake’s devastation.

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Discussion Guide for Drifting

1. How is the title Drifting appropriate for the collection?

2. In “The Least of These,” would you describe the name “Dieudonne” as important or sarcastic?

3. Why does Ti Papa resent being likened to his dead father?

4. In “Bereavement Pay,” the employee’s definition of “family” is vastly different from the employer’s. When you think of your own family, do you round up or down?

5. In “The Hunters,” how is the mother’s story similar to or different from other prospective immigrants?

6. Flora is named for a destructive hurricane. To what extent does she live up to her name?

7. Haiti had the first and only successful slave revolution in history, gaining its independence from France. Yet modern-day slavery remains a problem in Haiti through the restavec system. Yvela fulfills that role in Drifting. Why do you think Haiti is still plagued by that system?

8. Although the standard Duvalier-as-villain theme is absent in these stories, how do the many antagonists—Sister Bernadêtte, the vodun priest, the wealthy owner of funeral homes—contribute to Haiti’s seemingly perpetual decline?

9. The grandmother’s house being razed to make space for the change her children believe necessary foretells Haiti’s post-quake theme of “build Haiti back better.” In Drifting, the old is consistently being swept aside to make way for something new. Can something destroyed ever be rebuilt?

10. Where is Flora now? What has happened to her? Did she ever find Yseult? Where are they now?