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Dany Laferrière: A Special Section

1953   Born April 13 in Port-au-Prince; baptized Windsor Kléber Laferrière fils (Jr.).

1957  Sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Petit-Goâve after the election of François Duvalier as President of Haiti; Windsor Kléber Laferrière, Sr., was named mayor of Port-au-Prince (the youngest in the history of the city) and then became Minister of Commerce & Industry.

1959  Because of severe criticism of the Duvalier regime, D.L.’s father was sent first to Italy and later to Argentina as Haitian ambassador; later, settled in NYC after losing his ambassadorial post.

1964  Grandmother Da sends Dany to live in Port-au-Prince because of a malaria epidemic; begins secondary schooling at the Collège Canado-Haïtien (Brothers of the Sacred Heart).

1971  Death of François Duvalier; his son, Jean-Claude becomes President of Haiti.

1972  Dany begins to publish short portraits of Haitian painters in Le Nouvelliste (the best-known Haitian daily newspaper).

1973  While continuing to work as a journalist (Le Nouvelliste, Le Petit Samedi Soir, and for the radio station, Haïti-Inter), D.L. becomes more interested in painting as he becomes friendly with a number of Haitian painters (Rigaud Benoît, Jasmin Joseph, Saint-Brice, Jean-René Jérôme, Bernard Séjourné).

1974  Makes acquaintance of Franketienne and other writers of the “Spiralist” literary movement.

1976  As criticism and opposition to “Baby Doc” grow, a fellow journalist and friend (Gasner Raymond) is assassinated; in haste, D.L. leaves Haiti and arrives in Montréal; works at various jobs.

1980  Birth of D.L.’s first daughter (in NYC).

1982  D.L. writes the first version of the novel that will become Comment faire l’amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer with his wife in NYC; wife and daughter move to Montréal, to live with D.L.

1985  Pub. of Comment faire l’amour . . .; sensational reaction by the media. [End Page 924]

1986  D.L. is hired to work for the new Québec television station, “Les Quatre Saisons”; given the weather assignment, D.L. does it “his way” and gains popularity with the public; Jean-Claude Duvalier (“Baby Doc”) is ousted from the presidency of Haiti.

1987  Pub. of 2nd novel, Éroshima.

1989  Becomes part of the “Bande des Six” (the Band of Six) for Radio Canada.

1991  Pub. of 3rd novel, L’odeur du café; wins the literary prize, “Carbet de la Caraïbe”; Jean-Bertrand Aristide takes office as democratically elected President of Haiti (7 Feb.); coup-d’état, led by Col. Cédras (30 Sept.).

1992  Pub. of 4th novel, Le goût des jeunes filles.

1993  Wins the lit. prize, “Edgar-Lespérance” (Le goût . . .).

Pub. of 5th novel, Cette grenade dans la main du jeune Nègre est-elle une arme ou un fruit?

1994  Pub. of 6th novel, Chronique de la dérive douce; President Aristide returns to Haiti (15 Oct.).

1996  Pub. of 7th novel, Pays sans chapeau (with a new Montréal publisher, Lanctôt).

1997  Pub. of 8th novel, La chair du maître (linked short stories).

Pub. of 9th novel, Le charme des après-midi sans fin.

1998  Laferrière is one of four Caribbean writers invited to appear in the series, “Voices from the Francophone Caribbean,” organized by the Americas Society in collaboration with Columbia University and New York University.
Current projects: working on a film based on Le goût des jeunes filles (filming has begun in Haiti); two new works announced—Je suis en Amérique (to be pub. by Lanctôt) and a 10th novel, L’oeil du cyclone.

Carrol F. Coates

Carrol F. Coates, an associate editor of Callaloo, is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the State University of New York in Binghamton. He has translated a number of Haitian works from French to English: Rene Depestre’s The Festival of the Greasy Pole, Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Dignity, and Jacques Stephen Alexis’ General Sun, My Brother.


1. Much of this information is contained in the chronology (French) in the paperback edition of Éroshima; additional information has been added from the interview published in this special section on Dany Laferrière. Historical dates are included as chronological points of reference, with no implication of connection with the dates in Laferrière’s biography.

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