Dancing In The Baron’s Shadow

Fabienne Josaphat               Pages: 231           Published: 2016

The book: It’s 1965 and Haiti is ruled by a brutal leader, Francois Duvalier, better known outside the country as Papa Doc.
Two brothers, Raymond, a taxi driver, and Nicolas, a university professor, struggle to survive, albeit in very different economic situations.  Nicolas is secretly compiling a dossier of crimes committed by the regime. He gets caught and sent to the infamous Fort Dimanche, a prison from which few people ever escape. Can Raymond save his brother?

You might like it because: Josaphat brings 1960s Haiti to life so vividly that the reader almost feels as if they are in the story watching it unfold.  She has created a thrilling tale that will keep you turning the page.

What did other people say?
“DANCING IN THE BARON’S SHADOW takes us to hell and back, inside one of the most brutal prisons run by one of the world’s most ruthless dictators. Fabienne Josaphat impressively brings to life a horrible period as well as the men and women who fought against it. Filled with life, suspense, and humor, this powerful first novel is an irresistible read about the nature of good and evil, terror and injustice, and ultimately triumph and love. ”                     – Edwidge Danticat, author of CLAIRE OF THE SEA LIGHT.

“Josaphat … has written a heartfelt and thought-provoking novel that grapples with serious issues.” – Miami Herald

How quickly will you get into the book? The book had me from the very first paragraph but it got really exciting and had me on the edge of my seat from page 7.

You might not like it because: Josaphat does a marvelous job of taking the reader into some of the atrocities perpetrated by the Papa Doc regime. While she does not let the reader get mired down in the horror, there are some pretty traumatic moments where some readers might want to look away or just not read on.

What might you read next?
I asked the author where we might go next. She suggested two books:

If you want to learn about some of Haiti’s history, she recommends The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James. It’s an account of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803.

If you’d like some more historical fiction, Josaphat suggests Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones, set in 1930s Haiti.

Or, go even further back in time to the 1830s. Read Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. This story begins in the Caribbean but moves from there to the Artic, Europe, and Africa.

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