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Street of Lost Footsteps Paperback – November 1, 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The colloquial monologues are scalding. They light up the reader like a torch. Corruption and despair do not phase our trio. The old madam achieves a wistful catharsis. The postal worker and Lawrence make everyday living exquisite. And the taxi driver turns the Street of Lost Footsteps from a nightmare zone into a destination."--Nicholas Burns, Review of Contemporary Fiction

From the Inside Flap

Lyonel Trouillot’s harrowing novel depicts a night of blazing violence in modern-day Port-au-Prince and recalls hundreds of years of violence stretching back even before the birth of Haiti in the fires of revolution. Three narrators—a madam, a taxi driver, and a post office employee—describe in almost hallucinatory terms the escalating chaos of a bloody uprising that pits the partisans of the Prophet against the murderous might of the great dictator Deceased Forever-Immortal.

The drama of promise and betrayal in Haitian life inform’s Street of Lost Footsteps with the grim irony and savage tenderness characteristic of writers for whom the repetitiveness of history has gone beyond tragedy, through farce, and on into insanity. With impressive originality and touching immediacy, Trouillot explores the nature of political oppression, memory, and truth.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 115 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803294506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803294509
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,900,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Steven R. Severance on January 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great novel which talks about Haiti's political history somewhat abstractly (it doesn't name specific administrations). There is a slightly surreal aspect to the events and the prose leans towards the poetic. It is very thin but rewards a slow reading.
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Format: Paperback
Lyonel Trouillot's intense, fragmentary portrayal of a night of apocalyptic violence in Port-au-Prince is harrowing and lacking in catharsis for the reader, as the two main narrators, a bordello madame (who used to be a school teacher) and a taxi driver who survives in an open sewer (though requiring an amputation) do not even hope that the viciousness will stop with the triumph of the Prophet (an abstracted Jean-Bertrand Astride) and the fall of the dictatorship (abstracted from that of the Duvaliers, père et fils).

"Does fire burn away suffering?", the madame asks. It is a rhetorical question, the answer to which is negative -- and that knowledge is not going to stop the burning, literal and figurative.

Things do happen in the concentrated, intense novel -- mostly bad things. What Trouillot wrote about was not just a single night, but an all-too representative condensation of Haitian history. Translator Linda Coverdale's useful introduction provides a succinct overview of the bloodstained history of Haiti, though I think that this portrayal of people living for being in on the kill has much wider reference than Haiti (having recently been in the Balkans...)

The realites he wrote about are stomach-turning. I don't think he should have sugarcoated them, but wish that he had marked who was narrating each of the short (2-5 page) chapters.
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