I love Roxane Gay! One of my friends introduced me to her work a while back and since then I have been a great fan. However, I hadn’t Ayiti, her first collection of short stories that was initially published in 2011. It is going to be republished in June with a beautiful new cover, and I’m so glad I have now read it as it’s honestly an amazing read.
Ayiti is a collection of short stories that revolve around Haiti. Stories of Haitians in Haiti, Haitian immigrants in the US, Haitian Americans, Americans of Haitian descent... Gay tackles an array of topics spanning migration, love, murder, assault, loneliness, family, loss, happiness, despair, pain, and a ton of other topics. She also expertly inserts stereotypes that seem to cross minds and lips when it comes to Haiti (the mud pies story for example), and makes us understand how ridiculous they are.
I always love how vivid Gay’s prose is, how deep her phrases dig into you, sometimes a soft caress, sometimes sharp object plunging into your stomach. It’s never difficult to imagine yourself as one of her characters, even in a story that spans less than a couple of pages. There are moments in Ayiti where you will probably cringe too, because you can imagine the scene exactly and just hope that you were never ever that person (the loud American tourist for example…).
Ayiti isn’t very long, but it’s perfectly formed, each story a snippet of a life, complementing the stories around it. It’s just a wonderful piece of work, a collection of wonderful pieces of work.
Ayiti will be published on June 12, 2018 by Grove Atlantic. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!