By Edward Nawotka
Among those killed in this week’s earthquake in Haiti was Georges Anglade, a Haitian-Canadian scholar, writer, and politician, who in 2008 founded PEN Haiti. He was the author of numerous books, including the satire What If Haiti Declared War on the U.S.A.? and five collections of lodyans, a Haitian narrative genre of “dwarf-sized sagas,” including the 2006 work Haitian Laughter.
Anglade had been in Haiti to attend a writing conference which was to begin this week and, according to the Christian Science Monitor, was expecting some fifty writers to attend.
The CSM also reports on Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat’s efforts to raise awareness and money for Haitian earthquake relief. Among others raising money is Simon Winchester, who will be hosting a fundraiser next Tuesday, January 19, at Idlewild Books in New York City.
The jacket copy of Haitian Laughter reads as follows:
Haitian Laughter is constructed around the “lodyans”, a narrative genre that has blossomed in Haiti as an art of miniatures. The substantial reduction in scale that presides over their creation allows only the significant features to remain, like a medieval illumination, a Japanese bonzai, or simply a small-sized map of an immense territory. This makes each miniature a “dwarf-sized saga” which lets us glimpse the excessive dimension of the original of which it is a reduced model. The “lodyans” is thus the Haitian art of brevity. Shooting off “lodyans” is a ritual of the meaningful moments of Haitian life which is punctuated by thousand-words story for laughing, smiling, grinning, grimacing. The “lodyans” is the daughter of the cane fields, just as the blues are the daughter of the cotton fields. In this book, Haitian Laughter, Anglade provides 100 miniatures for the curious reader to enjoy one a day.