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Farewell, Fred Voodoo

Farewell, Fred Voodoo

A Letter from Haiti

The Rainy Season, Amy Wilentz’s award-winning 1989 portrait of Haiti after the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier, was praised in the New York Times Book Review as “a remarkable account of a journalist’s transformation by her subject.” In her relationship with the country since then, Wilentz has witnessed more than one magical transformation. Now, with Farewell, Fred Voodoo, she gives us a vivid portrayal of the extraordinary people living in this stark place.

Wilentz traces the country’s history from its slave plantations through its turbulent revolutionary history, its kick-up-the-dirt guerrilla movements, its totalitarian dynasty that ruled for decades, and its long and always troubled relationship with the United States. Yet through a history of hardship shines Haiti’s creative culture—its African traditions, its French inheritance, and its uncanny resilience, a strength that is often confused with resignation.

Haiti emerged from the dust of the 2010 earthquake like a powerful spirit, and this stunning book describes the country’s day-to-day struggle and its relationship to outsiders who come to help out. There are human-rights reporters gone awry, movie stars turned aid workers, priests and musicians running for president, doctors turned diplomats. A former U.S. president works as a house builder and voodoo priests try to control elections.

A foreign correspondent on a simple story becomes, over time and in the pages of this book, a lover of Haiti, pursuing the essence of this beautiful and confounding land into its darkest and brightest corners. Farewell, Fred Voodoo is a spiritual journey into the heart of the human soul, and Haiti has found in Amy Wilentz an author of astonishing wit, sympathy, and eloquence.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451643978 | 
  • January 2013
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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 14

I’m stirred and moved by things I see here, but I’m not sure why, and I wonder: Would you be moved? Here are the things that touch me, but a warning: they are not entirely normal. ... [One is a] bone in a burned foot. The man sits in a broken wheelchair—he’s young, maybe twenty-two. He’s a friend of Jerry and Samuel’s. He was riding on his motorbike in the middle of a post-quake, pre-election demonstration when a government thug, so he says, took a potshot at him. The bullet went through his abdomen, and he was in such shock that his foot got caught in the bike’s muffler and burned. They... see more

About the Author

Amy Wilentz
Photo Credit: Paula Goldman

Amy Wilentz

Amy Wilentz is the author of The Rainy Season, Martyrs’ Crossing, and I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen. She has won the Whiting Writers Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Non-Fiction Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award. She writes for The New Yorker and The Nation and teaches in the Literary Journalism program at UC Irvine.

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