"This book is a wonderful introduction to Ms. Oriol’s work for
Vale of Tears is a stark, meditative, and vivid
exploration of Coralie Santeuil’s life through a series of flashbacks
she has on New Year’s eve as she makes fourteen stops while walking
from one end of the busy city of Port-au-Prince to the other in a last
quest to save her life and retain her dignity.
Although the novel is set in the period around the Second World War, it
is in many ways a book about contemporary Haiti. We pause to wonder
what happens to the privileged when their world disintegrates. We
contemplate the survival skills of the poor. Vale of Tears offers a
critical reading of the class system and corruption which plague the
Paulette Poujol Oriol’s unmatched psychological renditions, her
extraordinary story-telling talent and masterful prose beguile and
outrage, enchant and enrapture all at once.
Poujol-Oriol is one of Haiti’s most celebrated
novelists. She won Le Monde’s prestigious prize
for best short story in francophone countries in 1988 for “La Fleur
Rouge.” She also received Haiti’s coveted literary prize, the Prix
Henri Deschamps, for her novel Le Creuset (The
Crucible) in 1980. Le Passage was originally
published in French in 1996. She passed away on March 11, 2011.
Review in Kreyolicious