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MY Black History: La cle

February 15, 2011

Image from Authors at Harbourfront website

Most of my real world education came from my years living in Montreal. Entering a new city and positioning my independence were my first real steps towards becoming an adult. Dany Laferriére knows all about starting a new life in Montreal; the Haitian writer immigrated to the Latin Quarter in Montreal in the late 70s. He was my first introduction to writing about place, his keen insight on the issues in and around the city coupled with his brutal honesty really struck a cord with me. His Montreal was very recognizable to me. In the video below, Laferriére holds up a key to his apartment, one that can open the door to his home and opens metaphysical doors to opportunity that Montreal can offer.

In his first book “Comment faire l’amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer” or “How to make love to a Negro without getting tired” chronicles a young Haitian writer walking the streets of Montreal who has casual sex with white women. I’ve never been confronted with such strong racial and sexual politics that provoked me and at the same reflected my own situation. By this time I’ve read narratives of mixed-race relations, the stigma, the drama, the cultural psychological effects on the characters. But never had it seemed so real until reading Laferriére. Perhaps it was because his writing style is raw and unapologetic or perhaps at the time I too found love in the city of Montreal with someone outside of my race. Whatever the case, Laferriére’s work left a lasting imprint on me, and his work and perspective on race relations is absolutely integral to the Canadian literary cannon.

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To read an interview of Dany Laferriére click here


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