AMY WILENTZ / Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti
"She was there when Baby Doc fled; she was there, decades later, just after the earthquake hit. Amy Wilentz knows Haiti deeply: its language, its tragic history, the foibles of her fellow Americans who often miss the story there. This makes her a wise, wry, indispensable guide to a country whose fate has long been so interwoven with our own."
Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost
It was no surprise to Amy Wilentz when Haiti emerged from the dust of the 2010 earthquake like a powerful spirit. Her book is about magical transformations. It is filled with raucous characters: human-rights reporters gone awry, movie stars turned into aid workers, musicians running for president, doctors turned into diplomats, a former U.S. president working as a house builder, street boys morphing into rock stars, and voodoo priests running elections.
Wilentz looks back and forward at the country: at its slave plantations, its unthinkable revolutionary history, its kick-up-the-dirt guerrilla movements, its troubled relationship to the U.S., the totalitarian dynasty that ruled for decades, as well as its creative culture, its ancient African traditions and attitudes, and its uncanny resilience.
Like Joan Didion's Salvador and Rory Stewart's The Places in Between, this book vividly portrays the people of a stark place. A foreign correspondent on a simple story becomes, over time and in the pages of this book, a lover of this country, pursuing the heart and soul of this beautiful and confounding place into the darkest and brightest corners.
Amy Wilentz is the author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier, of Martyrs' Crossing, (a novel) and of I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen: Coming to California in the Age of Schwarzenegger. She has won the Whiting Writers Award, the PEN Martha Albrand Non-Fiction Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award; in 1990, she was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She writes for The New Yorker and The Nation and teaches in the Literary Journalism program at UC Irvine.
Guest introducer this evening is Adam Hochschild, whose books include King Leopold's Ghost and, most recently, To End All Wars. He has written for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and The Nation, and lectures at UC's Graduate School of Journalism.
Berkeley Arts & Letters at the Hillside Club (2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley)
Tickets $12 ($7 students, including OLLI, & Hillside members) in advance only, online at Brown Paper Tickets or 800-838-3006; $15 at the door
Hillside Club (View)
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
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