Port-au-Prince, Haiti–Earlier this month, Haiti welcomed the 21st edition of Livre en Folie—a national book fair that brought many readers and authors alike out into the surface. This year approximately 169 authors with a total of 1864 books were put on display. As usual, it was held at Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre located at Tabarre on the 4th and 5th of June, 2015.
Ever since the announcement, I had one destination in mind, LIVRE EN FOLIE. The day couldn’t have come fast enough. Though I had missed the first day, I was determined not to miss the second one; and I didn’t. Friday June 5th, 2015, at ten in the morning, I stepped into the Parc Historique, wearing my colorful shirt, my black jean, my gray hat and my blue-blacker glasses. The entrance fee was 300gds ($5 us) with which one free drink coupon and two 100gds ($1.92 us) coupon off the book of my choice were included.
This year, the guest of honor was Syto Cavé, author of many books, including Brakoupe, D’amour à mort, La Cabine Jeune, Le Singe du Dormeur, On M’a Volé Mon Corps, Une Rose Rouge and Van Cortland Club. Also his songs titled « Ils ont chanté and Lapèson » were interestingly part of his rich repertoire.
As I continued inside the park, the first thing I noticed was the library which looked like a gigantic stand full of books on my right side. On my left, I could hear music which spiked my interest. As I got closer to the source of the music, there was this very big—I would say—billboard of the Caravane de la BD which is the brand new animated Haitian book produced by Haitians. I even had the chance to meet one of the writers and illustrators of the animated book titled “Zafè Lakay”. The name of the author is Kendy Joseph. I would compare the front page of the book with “The Boondock” animated cartoon. I can’t say I didn’t feel proud.
As I strolled further into the park, I happened to come across Mrs. Mirlande Manigat who seemed to have been on her way out. She appeared to be mightily satisfied. It was my first time seeing her face to face. She looked pretty young up close. Anyhow, I continued on with my journey. I toured the park, going from stand to stand, checking out books. To my utter of surprise, an author by the name of Ange Bellie Andou, who was my protocol teacher a few years back during my university years, also displayed three of her books.
Imagine my excitement! But just when I was about to look for her stand, my stomach began to growl, reminding me that I needed to feed it. When I glanced at the clock, it was past twelve in the afternoon. Wow, times surely fly fast. Without wasting any more time, I went over to the hotdog stand that I had noticed earlier. I bought myself a hotdog for 50gds (0.96c) and a drink using my free coupon. I sat down in the small outdoor restaurant and dug in. As I was eating, I couldn’t help but stare at the people, young and old, dressed up for the occasion and surely having a good time.
Once I was done with my small lunch, I went over to Le Nouveliste newspaper’s stand where I was handed a newspaper with a list of names of all the publishers, authors and books. I sat down and glued my eyes on it and even marked the ones I wanted to buy. “Communication Plus, Deschamps, Le Nouveliste, La Presse National and many more were the publishers present on the list. As for the authors, they were many of them, like Gary Victor, Kettly Mars, Teddy Mombrun Keser, Arnoux Anthony Louis-Jeune, Dany Laferrière and many more. The List was endless. Oh! I forgot to mention this: Before my lunch, I stumbled into a friend from church of whom I didn’t know was an author. Her name is Christci Libertin and she had published a collection of poetry titled En Quarantaine. Yes, this collection was definitely on my must-get books.
Then I resumed my roaming around, feverishly now. I met friends, I took pictures and just enjoyed myself. Around four in the evening, I was ready to buy the books. I bought Mon Seul Péché by Ange Bellie Andou, Les Gouverneurs de la Rosée by Jacques Romain and En Quarantaine by Ms. Libertin. Yes, only three books, but trust me, it took me great restraint to walk away with just 3 titles. I wanted to buy more than 50. Yes, I am an avid reader and the titles were really interesting—not to mention the fact there were many genres like romance, poetry, political, fiction, non-fiction, educational, medical and so on. Yeah, it was like walking into a really big library and you just didn’t know where to touch. By five in the afternoon, the park was mighty full. People were coming and going like an army of ants.
Once again, the planners of Livre en Folie truly managed to achieve yet another huge success. I believe the publishers and the authors would have no room for complaining. Books were sold like crazy. It was refreshing to see children, teenagers, young adults and adults who have not lost their appetite for reading in a society overruled by technology.
Note: Claire Bijou is poet and essayist. She lives and works in suburban Port-au-Prince. You can read part of her collection by going to our section: Poetry and Literature