Judge a book by its cover: ‘Ayiti’

Picking books based solely on their looks

BRITTANY HOFMANN | THE SPECTRUM ‘Ayiti’ is short and bittersweet.

When I picked up “Ayiti” from the shelf at the library, I had no idea what would be the experience that awaited inside for me.

I picked up the book because of the simple and beautiful cover. I never would have guessed the horrors inside.

Despite the book being a mix of fiction and nonfiction, the collection of stories inside revealed the horrific reality of what it’s like to be Haitian.

The way the stories are written, the reader must draw their own conclusions from the vague storylines that jump from one person’s story to the next.

Once you pick up on the sometimes witty, but mostly deleterious endings, you’ll begin to understand what life must really be like for someone from Haiti.

The book begins with an elementary-age student who has recently moved to America.

The student dives in to his or her hatred for Americans immediately, especially when the teacher asks the student to speak French in front of the entire class.

Quickly, the other students begin to bully the child with the unfortunate nickname of “HBO,” but he or she meets their comments on the student’s body odor head on with a “yippee ki-yay.”

They have chosen this response because they believe that HBO shows movies starring Bruce Willis.

When he or she picks up on American curse words, they spice up their “yippee ki-yay” with a Bruce Willis a la “Die Hard” twist.

From there, Roxane Gay tells the heartbreaking story of a woman who is kidnapped during her honeymoon with her American husband in Haiti, her home, and is forever changed when she gives birth to her assaulter’s child.

Gay then tells the story of a husband and wife trying to escape to Miami and another story of a man who already has, but can’t keep his promises to his family who are still suffering back in Haiti.

Never does Gay interject her own musings into these stories, so the truth is there for you to process on your own.

The book ends on a hopeful cliffhanger of the man and woman making their way to Miami with dreams of prosperity, specifically cable TV.

“Ayiti” is Gay’s debut in which she tells the heartbreaking representation of the Haitian diaspora experience. The stories are few, but the impact the words have are tremendous.

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