A Call for Literary Review + Criticism of Kreyòl Ayisyen Works

The Delince family has been actively engaged in book publishing since 1964 in Port Au Prince Haiti and as many of you know, have now initiated the same business here in the United States (based in Miami, Florida). This undertaking while rewarding is not without it’s challenges. One of our stateside initiatives is the conscious publication of books written or more often than not, translated into Kreyòl Ayisyen. This focus of Kreyòl Ayisyen is an internal initiative in pursuit of widening the canon of high quality works of literature, poetry, historical documents, social studies and history available in Kreyòl Ayisyen.

A major point of challenge Literary Criticism. Search as we have over the past 2 years, we have been unable to locate a central (truth be told not even a dispersed) source for literary criticism of works created in Kreyòl Ayisyen. Delving a bit deeper into our business history we have located sporadic literary reviews primarily from news papers in Haiti throughout the 60’s and 70’s however those source seem to wane under largely political pressures in Haiti. 

Literary mechanisms such as reviews and more importantly literary criticism however are fairly sparse in the United States. There are sporadic explorations of the large body of Haitian literature in book form. Two notable titles we highly recommend are Essays on Haitian Literature by Leon F. Hoffmann and Haïti et les autres: La révolution imagine by Marie-Denise Shelton. Adjunct to these are a series of largely academic journals, daily newspapers in Haiti that routinely review "Haitian Books" but largely these are non-fiction works of academic importance. These are certainly of service to readers and researchers who are intensely focused on the development of Kreyòl Ayisyen books. We wonder however, what is the consumer or simply the avid reader of fiction to do when evaluating their next book?

While the aforementioned resources offer a broad overview of Haiti’s literary past what we feel is required is an ongoing consumer/reader-centric review and critique of Haiti’s ever evolving literary future. A series of regular consumer reviews as described above has hobbled modern Haitian Literature at least in the United States.

First and foremost effective critique will offer the readers a consistent, unbiased summation of the book’s literary value. No longer will we have to rely on “notes from friends of the author” waxing poetic about “the genius of this book.” To only after reading the lauded work realize that our wallets were victims of hyperbole. Moreover, writers and publishers operating under a regime of review and criticism would be encouraged to creation higher quality Kreyòl books. Seems simple enough right? Why does this not exist today?
— Jerry Delince

As a publisher and moreover as avid readers of Kreyòl Ayisyen texts we feel that there must exist, a mechanism that "fairly" and critically reviews of Kreyòl Ayisyen works circulating within Haitian literary sphere. Imagine a book review journal, website, blog, regardless of modality that, receives and then very judiciously reviews these works regardless of their geographic origins (i.e. United States, Haiti, Martinique, Canada, Guadeloupe, Dominica, France, etc. Belgium).

Edition Delince is unleashing this idea within the Haitian literary universe with the hopes that someone out there picks up the banner and runs with it. While we have the resources to accomplish this task, it would be imprudent – considering the fact that we are publishers and of course explicitly biased. The publisher can never become the critic after all.