Meeting with Lyonel Trouillot, storyteller for

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Poet, novelist, lyricist, columnist, author of writing workshops, Lyonel Trouillot is a key figure in Haitian literary life. He has in his honor a powerful and poetic work that draws his honey from the tragedies and the great hopes of the small Haitian people. The author has just published his new novel “Antoine des Gommiers” with the Actes Sud editions, on which pages legends, text and dramas are mixed together.

“I have always written. In the little family legend, it is said that I sat down under what in our home is called the “shed” of the Haitian habitat, and that I told imaginary stories to imaginary beings. I can not remember it. On the other hand, I remember writing things that I took for poems or even stories or other types of short texts in notebooks, very early from at least ten years of age, ”Lyonel Trouillot recalls.

Since the publication of his first novel in 1989, Lyonel Trouillot has quickly established himself as one of Haiti’s most important literary voices. Novelist, but also poet, the author today has a rich work consisting of novels, collections of poems in French and in Haitian Creole, with chronicles. In keeping with the great Haitian literary tradition to which he declares himself heir, Trouillot reigns in his prose as in his poems the painful realities of those lands without exoticism or complacency.

The intellectual long-standing commitment to the civil movement of resistance to the dictatorship and the restoration of Haiti. The man is also a columnist in many magazines and a host of writing workshops where new generations of Haitian writers are thrown. Despite this crowded activity, to which the literature courses he gives at the University of Port-au-Prince, Lyonel Trouillot rarely has to miss his daily walks in the popular districts of the capital. It is during these morning walks that he draws his inspiration for his novels, always in touch with reality. “I have no imagination,” he likes to say. I am content to witness the ugliness of the world around me. ”

The taste of writing

Born in Port-au-Prince in 1956, into a family of judges and lawyers, Lyonel Trouillot was not destined for a literary career. He studied law with the aim of one day being able to follow in his footsteps, president of the capital’s bar. Along the way, the passion for literature and writing got better over the bar, although the person in question today largely defends himself from making a literary career. “Literature is not my only entrance into the life of society and the world,” he likes to say.

The taste for writing came in contact with the classics of Haitian literature that abounded in the family library. The author remembers an exciting youth, nurtured by readings of novels and poetry collections written by Jacques Roumain, Jacques Stéphen Alexis, René Depestre and Georges Castera, leading authors of the Haitian pantheon. “We are lucky to have, it is true, the novelist welcomes great texts in the Haitian tradition. I was lucky to have these texts to read. When I was young, I wanted to write like Alexis because it seemed to me that he conveyed the real complexity.Roumain is a writer that I like, but Alexis’ realism seems to me to be broader.And also, he has this way of uniting and giving to read at the same time the real and the perception of The real thing that has always challenged me. “

If the militant author Jacques Stephen Alexis, author of Compère Général Soleil, is still an important ideological landmark in Lyonel Trouillot’s glowing life, the latter also remembers his meeting at the age of 20 with the enormous Haitian poet René Philoctète, who published all his work on behalf of a writer and influenced generations of poets. Also for the young Trouillot, it was a crucial meeting that weighed his education as a writer at the forefront and sought his poetic language and his voice.

Capture moments in the world

Entered into literature by publishing poetry in Creole, not by political choice, but because “it came naturally that way”, Lyonel Trouillot is today known above all as a novelist. Discovered in France in 1998 thanks to the publication of the Acts Sud editions of his novel Rue des Pas-perdus, it fascinates by its heavy language, by its writing, which borrows as much from the narrator’s framework as from his economics in the modernist narrative where the linearity of the plot has given way to thematic spread, polyphony, heterogeneity and decency. His entire art as a novelist consists in “capturing moments of the world as a wandering camera while standing resolutely in off-screen,” as the interested party described it in his theoretical book, Objective: the other.

Today, the author has about twenty novels in his honor, the most successful of which is entitled Thérèse en mille pieces (2000), Bicentenaire (2004), Yanvalou pour Charlie (2009) and La Belle amour humaine (2011). ). Working on the question of the balance of power in a society based on exclusion and exploitation, the novelist has patiently built, from book to book, a colorful and dense epic, populated by all the voices of Haiti. These voices taken from the naked in Haitian life testify, question, plead, shout their pain, remember. These desperate but never regret voices when we come from the margin, we find them on the pages of Antoine des Gommiers, Trouillot’s new novel, where the narrative sails between legends, poetry and dramas.

Antoine des Gommiers was a fortune teller, a mystic, a saving oracle, whose legend has survived his disappearance several decades ago. The novel tells the story of two brothers, distant descendants of the eponymous hero, who draw the resources to face everyday torment from the memory of this amazing ancestor. “Antoine des Gommiers really did exist,” says the author. He has a well-established reputation in the Haitian imagination. Now I would visit this legend to see if we can produce meaning and what Antoine des Gommiers, as he was and as he is being reinvented, can tell us about the human condition. The legend of Antoine des Gommiers can be seen from completely different positions. We can see it as a waste of time, but we can also say to ourselves that in order to endure this material state and remain human despite this material state and possibly be able to change it one day, we need legends. . “

The thorn between the realistic description of an island dancing on the edge of the abyss and poetic evocations refines this new novel written by Lyonel Trouillot the furrow that the author has been digging for more than three decades. Gommier’s pythia, which Haitians try to revive, the book returns to a whole people’s identity search, a haunting theme at the heart of the fiction from the master narrator to Port au Prince

Antoine des Gommiersby Lyonel Trouillot. Actes Sud, 208 pages, 18 euros.

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