Benaouda Lebdai – Philomé Robert or the pursuit of happiness


youn the primary novel is a problem, a need to be learn and appreciated, typically a concern of not being understood on this fictional manufacturing course of. Philomé Robert has simply revealed ephemeral wanderings, a 100 and seventy-two web page novel that could be a masterstroke from my viewpoint, as a result of we enter it with a bang to find a world the place the seek for fact is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the plot. The assorted characters seem via Gabriel, who seems to be central to the story that unfolds with a charming depth, all of the extra in order the plot revolves round him, main the reader to the universe and world of a nomad discovering life.

Gabriel is an architect and, along with some references to his career and to his tradition of architectural masterpieces of the nice capitals visited, he narrates his loves, his needs, his anxieties, his fears, his goals, his escapes, his untimely departures for the one other and to a different place, their returns, their traumas, their resilience. The geographies of the Caribbean, Europe and Africa are current, underlining his need to at all times go to different locations, whereas on the similar time establishing bridges between his a number of lives and his coronary heart attachments.

READ TOOHaiti below the eyes of its writers

Haiti on the middle of historical past… however not solely

Philomé Robert is from Haiti, a land liked and hated, loving and ungrateful, an island with a thousand tales, admired and rejected for good and unhealthy causes. All that is mirrored within the pages with sensitivity and braveness. Gabriel’s character confides his story and his tumultuous wanderings with immense depth, as they’re linked to 3 robust, passionate girls with a direct and particular connection to him. His relationship along with his mom, his love relationships reveal a Gabriel who spares neither his reminiscence, nor his power, nor his need to place into phrases his wanderings all over the world.

Gabriel’s life and reminiscence on this story are articulated round three girls who formed his thoughts, his energy, who revealed his weaknesses, his shortcomings. From web page to web page, these three girls type the very important axis of Gabriel when it comes to emotions and intimate sensations, they’re referred to as Héloïse, Meredith and Consuelo. Danissa additionally haunts his reminiscence. Every corresponds to a geographic space-time of Gabriel’s life. The idea of Gabriel’s persona rests on his mom Héloïse who dies prematurely after being hit by an official automobile that passes at excessive pace, like all of the vehicles of members of the federal government of Haiti that don’t cease, as was the case along with his mom. The pressure of the denunciation is current from the primary pages and later via the touches.

READ TOOCap sur Haiti in books and stay

The story within the background

A criticism of the Haitian dictatorships is expressed with out concessions within the report, as proven on this excerpt: “The presidential driver had left. Silent, smug, as are state assassins. The recollections of his household and the golden phrases and knowledge of his mom Héloïse are scattered all through Gabriel’s psychological wanderings as the teachings he assimilated, “refusal of dedication, readability of positions, rejection of all types of ambiguity. Gabriel was 9 years previous.” and the trauma of loss impacts his thoughts, primarily as a result of his life has been stuffed with psychological fractures. His encounters parade in fragments in connection along with his emotions, his sexual needs, his needs, his excesses, his resentments. Gabriel hungers for freedom regardless of the experiences that might have discouraged probably the most cussed. An introspection is subtly unfolded to recount the loves, the flashes, the encounters on the station platform, the dispassionate, the attraction and the shenanigans, the unbridled love scenes not with out tenderness with Consuelo, the Dakar artist whose jumps, jumps, fascinates Gabriel.

As for Meredith, the mysterious girl, she comes from Cuba, Brazil or Caribbean nations, nations the place human relationships stay important regardless of the miseries that encompass her. Philomé Robert’s energy is to fortunately intertwine the intervals, the instances, the beings that depend, following the recollections of the occasions that befell in Haiti, along with his mom Héloïse, his silent father, and on the flip of a sentence, the textual content brings the reader returns to Paris with “Consuelo who had heard all the pieces. My nightly conversations, my nightmares that I assumed I had mastered”, these of childhood. The textual content mixes poetry, sung phrases, proper phrases, evocative verbs. Meredith is the absent/current, the unhealthy conscience, the one who smokes hallucinogenic herbs, however who dedicated suicide, with out clarification, and the scene opens the story. Gabriel’s search is undoubtedly that of the reality, of “why and the way”, upsetting a colourful fashion and metaphors that illuminate the textual content and the place the analogy is suggestive: “Structure is a useless planet for me. different constructions in perspective”, human, definitely.

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A promising first romance

Philomé Robert’s fashion is a part of the register of magical realism that has its origins in Latin America. Along with the intrigue surrounding the Gabriel-Meredith-Consuelo trio, it’s the world of the XXIand century staged with a criticism, by touches, of the dictators who depart the impoverished younger individuals of the nations of the South on the facet of the street. Gabriel’s story implicitly values ​​these younger individuals who wish to stay their lives efficiently and freely, who wish to cross borders to flee confinement and distress. Profitable individuals like Gabriel rapidly realized the keys to studying the Western world. On the similar time, Gabriel is aware of learn how to categorical the heritage of southern cultures, equivalent to voodoo, to intertwine it with the tradition of the world. A number of literary, musical and cultural references flood recollections of him. Gabriel subtly demonstrates that he now has a wealthy common tradition, as he’s comfy in Paris, Dakar or Colorado, whereas remaining staunchly vital of the failures of politicians. His shortcomings throughout his childhood in Haiti led him to excesses, to “ephemeral wanderings”, a novel that’s learn with pleasure. Philomé Robert knew learn how to mix the intimate and the social, the non-public and the political, providing the advantages of being comfortable in “the entire world”, in accordance with Édouard Glissant’s system. A really promising first novel!

* Benaouda Lebdai is a college professor of colonial and post-colonial African literature.


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